'Perhaps the words remember me': Richard Brautigan's very short stories

Gair, C. (2012) 'Perhaps the words remember me': Richard Brautigan's very short stories. Western American Literature, 47(1), pp. 4-21. (doi: 10.1353/wal.2012.0005)

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This essay situates Richard Brautigan within a literary genealogy reaching back to the eighteenth century. It views him as an exponent of a particular type of American writing—working in and against the traditions of Franklin, Thoreau, Hemingway, Jack London, and Ezra Pound—and as an artist insisting upon the relevance of that tradition to the present. Thus, Brautigan is no casual tourist in the American canon; instead, his work provides an updating of quintessential themes and a series of implicit and explicit references to the trans-historical resonances of texts offering imaginative resistance to hegemonic control. The essay focuses on Brautigan's very short stories "The Scarlatti Tilt" (1970) and "A Short Story about Contemporary Life in California" (1969) as exemplifications of his ability to combine formal experimentation with intertextual allusion in commentaries on (post)modern American existence. Reading his fiction, it is apparent that Brautigan detects narratives and monuments that limit human freedom everywhere he looks and that he believes escaping the control they wield requires constant vigilance and imagination. This is a process that is exemplified in the very short stories that strip almost all the layers of representational form that are normally present in fiction.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gair, Dr Chris
Authors: Gair, C.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:Western American Literature
ISSN (Online):1948-7142
Published Online:01 January 2012

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