Cultivators & Displayers: Brautigan’s Life, Work and Philosophy Intertwined

The “affectionate light bulb” to the messages he leaves behind

The brains of Richard Brautigan, of course, stretch far beyond his literary genius, already largely riddled with a mastery of his fabled surrealist, otherworldly feel: from magical morphing of personification, juxtaposition, rapid interjections and crafty cuts of humor and the like of which we’ve all come to appreciate about the Brautigan imagination that pervades his work.

Or of course, though making a rare appearance in Brautigan’s work— and still comparatively short nevertheless— extended metaphor and long-threaded meaning also arise profoundly when Brautigan gifts it to the reader.

Brautigan, with potent satirical nodes and employment of black comedy, parody and inventive metaphor often humorously—or, to some critics’ belief, naively— showcased in his work, was widely categorized as a writer of the Beat Generation, or Hippie generation, or some sort of a bridge writer. However, as reinforced by Ianthe, his daughter, Richard would’ve rejected the outright labeling of him as any of the above.

As Brautigan bounced all across the Pacific Northwest, from Tacoma, to Great Falls, Montana, Eugene, Oregon, and later to nearby San Francisco, recognizing and pointing out small intricacies—like striking colors and shapes of nature—were characteristics of Richard simply unlike any other people in the small town, as his half-sister Barbara would attest to.

From his works, travels, relationships and beyond, as the understanding of the “Brautigan philosophy” continuously grows, Richard’s impassioned, imaginative and inventive approach as a writer and novelist was, in large part, significantly funneled by his continual life role as a tenacious observationalist.

From time spent in the midst of nature and travel across those very places from which his works, like Trout Fishing in America, often display (of course, in a rare, matter-of-fact Brautigan manner nonetheless) Brautigan and his life’s work have portrayed an ever clear emphasis on how the natural world, like his imagination, often takes on a life of its own—really, for the enjoyment of those who simply look for it.