For me, it all started in the summer of 1972 with my discovery of Richard Brautigan. I was a kid in the Army in Baumholder, Germany. I’d always been a reader but I’d never read anything like the whimsical writing of Richard Brautigan.
I don’t recall the title of my first Brautigan book - maybe it was “In Watermelon Sugar.” I hope it was - I love that book. I enjoy Brautigan’s poetry too; but I’ll admit it has not aged very well. I just loved the way he had with words. I could understand what he was in his most unusual way.
I believe Brautigan was at his peak in 1974 with his novel “The Hawkline Monster.” I still believe that book is one of the best books I’ve ever read. But Richard was a strange cat and a lot of the stuff he wrote was strange. Richard never really grew much as a writer.
Richard started to stumble and fall with a long line duds including the ridiculous “Willard and his Bowling Trophies.” It was like, “What the hell is this shit?”
The people who really knew Richard Brautigan knew how really weird he was and believed he last person on earth any sane person would consider the “...gentle hippy spokesman of a generation.” Once Richard's ballon busted he fell really hard.
He ended up blowing his brains out with a borrowed 357 magnum in the living room of his Bolinas, California mansion. No one knows exactly when he fired the shot.
Brautigan’s body was not discovered for a month. Checks went un-cashed and numerous telephone calls were never returned.. His daughter, Ianthe, got worried and hired a PI to break into her father’s house and look for evidence. It appears Richard was looking out a window at the Pacific ocean when he died.
I was at the right place at the right time when I stumbled across Richard Brautigan at his prime in an Army bookstore in the middle of Germany. So I wrote a poem about it.