Tag Archives: machines of loving grace

Interlude 1: Ode to Richard Brautigan.

23 Oct

(Still writing these, which even to me is strange. Gwendolyn Brooks and Ann Carson are in the dock. Still working on The Brotherhood of the Eye, and also about to dive into third draft of The Taunting Light. I’m aflame!)


Oh, Richard.

Little Richard.

Not-so-Richie Rich.

Ye of the counter-culture.

Silly, be-knighted Richard.

So much fun to read.

Full of wonk.

Full of spice.

Full of honky-tonk.

A fabulous first-rate poet.

Complex but fun to read.

Small but also big.

Just goddamn . . . great.


A very fine novelist, too, only of a very specific sort.

(Think Kenneth Patchen with a narrative through-line.)

Clever, but not just clever.

Funny, but not just funny.

Pithy but not just pithy.

Weird but not just weird.

Subtle melancholic erotic punchy muscular

Fabulous eye-opening stunning wondrous


Trout Fishing one of the best novels of its kind.


Yet, Richard, you lost faith in the creative world

You betrayed your own imagination

You plummeted

You misplaced your talent.

Or was it vacuumed up?

Did that peculiar dustbin of American celebrity sweep up your dreams?


So you plummeted.

You fell.

You banged your shins and dirtied your face.

You knew you had lost something special.

You drank too much.

You cared about the things you hated.

You could have ended up like most

kind of sort of washed up and past your prime

Beer-bellied and discontented

A John Cheever type.

retreating shrinking diminishing

boozing commiserating recriminating

bitter bitter bitter


But, Richard, a suicide?

Such a commonplace metaphor for loss of faith?

We expected better.

More subtlety.

Less cruelty.

More rapacious belief.

Something rhapsodic.

Something beautiful.

Something more than Hemingway.

Jesus, Richard.


You and the rest:

Don Carpenter

Kurt Cobain

Sylvia Plath

Virginia Woolf

Primo Levi


Cesare Pavese

Stefan Zweig

Hunter Thompson


(the last I sort of forgive as his makes a kind of culminating sense

even though with suicide I have something like contempt)


the list goes on and on and on and on


magnum temple trigger, yuck.

I won’t spend too much time on his suicide.

His words are too grand for that.


There are comets, he writes, that laugh at us

from behind our teeth, wearing our clothes of fish and birds.

We try.




And those machines of loving grace,

he saw the world we were moving towards

animal machine cybernetic reality


Richard Brautigan.

Big Sur.

West Coast, Buddhist thinking.

Hippie, left-right inclinations.

Big-country-don’t-read-on-me libertarianism.


Free(ish) love!

Brautigan’s life a cross-section of 1960s counter-culture.

(before it became trendy)

He offers simple pleasures.

fishing walking hiking driving

he revels in the unorthodox

the paradox

the lovingly weird

Watermelons and trout and glorious sex

Weird ruins, small meals

rough housing with babies

screwing in a warm stream

light refracted through rain


There’s something lost about his work.

There’s something desperate in his silliness.

He belongs to a rarified group of writers—

Vonnegut, Carroll, perhaps Angela Carter—

comic and serious at the same exact time.

Their best work timeless and ageless.


Richard—trout fishing in babylon

and roaming the west with a confederate coward—

we have so very little in common.

But I sort of love you.