Trout Fishing Reminescences

I’m listening to a recent This American Life podcast, when a section of Brautigan’s The Abortion is read aloud, I lay down the scissors I’m holding. I’m sixteen again, hidden in the public library stacks, unable to believe what I’m reading. What is this? Who is Brautigan?

An instant fan of Brautigan and simultaneously unable to exactly figure out why, when I listen to his words read aloud, I suddenly see his writing is all reverence, all poetry, all a hymn to living — in the most utterly mundane way — an acknowledgement of love and love gone awry, of abortion and bliss — funny and sorrowful and joyous.

Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.

Richard Brautigan

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This Old Book

Walking with my friend through town, we find a cache of free, reeking-of-basement-mold books — a strange collection of Zen and psychoanalysis and car repair that might have come from my own  jammed shelves.

I pull out a skinny book with no title on its cover, only a black-and-white photograph of a long-haired girl in a white dress on a pile of rubble. An early edition of Brautigan’s The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster.

For the rest of our walk, I hold the book loosely in one hand, past the the old granite cutting sheds, houses well-tended and houses abandoned, through the wet woods and blossoming bloodroot and a hillside of trout lilies just beginning to open. I keep thinking about my second book I’m finishing now, how I’m lacing together the connections within that story: a stolen jar of farmers market cash, a dead dog, a torn crimson scarf.

That night, reading the book, I discover a bookmark jammed in the book’s pages, from the Bedford, NH, bookstore of my childhood.

In a Cafe

I watched a man in a cafe fold a slice of bread
as if he were folding a birth certificate or looking
at the photograph of a dead lover.

 

— Richard Brautigan

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