Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan in San Francisco’s Washington Square Park in March 1967, © Erik Weber

Richard Brautigan Checklist:

Section A: Books and Broadsides
Section B: Contributions to Books and Anthologies
Section C: Contributions to Periodicals
Section D: Periodicals Edited and Published

Richard Gary Brautigan (January 30, 1935 – ca. September 14, 1984) was an American novelist, poet, and short story writer. His work often clinically and surrealistically employs black comedy, parody, and satire, with emotionally blunt prose describing pastoral American life intertwining with technological progress. He is best known for his novels Trout Fishing in America (1967) and In Watermelon Sugar (1968).

Brautigan began his career as a poet, with his first collection being published in 1957. He made his debut as a novelist with A Confederate General from Big Sur (1964), about a seemingly delusional man who believes himself to be the descendant of a Confederate general. Brautigan would go on to publish numerous prose and poetry collections until 1982. He committed suicide in 1984.

Robert Novak wrote in Dictionary of Literary Biography that “Brautigan is commonly seen as the bridge between the Beat Movement of the 1950s and the youth revolution of the 1960s.”

About the body of Brautigan’s work, Guy Davenport commented in the Hudson Review: “Mr. Brautigan locates his writing on the barricade which the sane mind maintains against spiel and bilge, and here he cavorts with a divine idiocy, thumbing his nose. But he makes clear that at his immediate disposal is a fund of common sense he does not hesitate to bring into play. He is a kind of Thoreau who cannot keep a straight face.”

References consulted:

Barber, John F. Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography
Jefferson: McFarland, 1990

Lepper, Gary M. A Bibliographical Introduction to Seventy-Five Modern American Authors
Berkeley: Serendipity Books, 1976

Nelson, Robert. The Richard Brautigan Collection of Robert Nelson

Online Resources:

American Dust – Richard Brautigan’s life and writing

Further reading:

Barber, John F. Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life
Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2006

Hjortsberg, William. Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan
Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2012