Monday, June 4, 2007

In Watermelon Sugar the deeds were done....

"In Watermelon Sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar. I'll tell you about it because I am here and you are distant.

Wherever you are, we must do the best we can. It is so far to travel, and we have nothing here to travel, except watermelon sugar. I hope this works out.

I live in a shack near iDEATH. I can see iDEATH out the window. It is beautiful. I can also see it with my eyes closed and touch it. Right now it is cold and turns like something in the hand of a child. I do not know what that thing could be.

There is a delicate balance in iDEATH. It suits us.

The shack is small but pleasing and comfortable as my life and made from pine, watermelon sugar and stones as just about everything here is.

Our lives we have carefully constructed from watermelon sugar and then travelled to the length of our dreams, along roads lined with pines and stones.

I have a bed, a chair, a table and a large chest that I keep my things in. I have a lantern that burns watermelontrout oil at night.

That is something else. I'll tell you about it later. I have a gentle life.

I go to the window and look out again. The sun is shining at the long edge of a cloud. It is Tuesday and the sun is golden.

I can see piney woods and the rivers that flow from those piney woods. The rivers are cold and clear and there are trout in the rivers.

Some of the rivers are only a few inches wide.

I know a river that is half-an-inch wide. I know because I measured it and sat beside it for a whole day. It started raining in the middle of the afternoon. We call everything a river here. We're that kind of people.

I can see fields of watermelons and the rivers that flow through them. There are many bridges in the piney woods and in the fields of watermelons. There is a bridge in front of this shack.

Some of the bridges are made of wood, old and stained silver like rain, and some of the bridges are made of stone gathered from a great distance and built in the order of that distance, and some of the bridges are made of watermelon sugar. I like those bridges best.

We make a great many things out of watermelon sugar here -- I'll tell you about it -- including this book being written near iDEATH.

All this will be gone into, travelled in watermelon sugar."

Richard Brautigan, 1968.

That's the first chapter in Richard's third novel, also my favorite of his books.

I cannot explain what it is about this book. I do think that it is the most psychedelic novel I've ever read, and that's a part of what I love about it.

There is a quality of Brautigan's writing that some people find lazy and unfocused. Some people don't. I'm one of those who doesn't.

The original printing was a paperback by Dell with the cover shown here. The current edition has a completely different cover that, in my opinion, does the book no favors.

I wonder why publishers will change the cover art of a classic novel while record companies never (or rarely) change the covers of classic LPs. The 40th Anniversary of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album was a few days ago and I can't help but think that, had it been a novel, the anniversary would have been celebrated with a new edition in a brand new sleeve.

I was already pretty happy that it wasn't a novel but now, even more.

Reading Vonnegut's A Man Without A Country last week, and re-reading Slaughterhouse Five at the moment, made me think of Richard Brautigan, and thinking of Richard always makes me pull out a copy of In Watermelon Sugar.

2 comments:

Alberto Gonzales said...

I like this passage. But I had to read it three times to enjoy it.

Stan Denski said...

There is a "Brautigan effect" that's like a gentle bomb that gives off a kind of radiation that makes everything written within a mile sound like Brautigan. I don't know if that was your intent, but that was the effect.