It's the birthday of poet and novelist Richard Gary Brautigan, born in Tacoma, Washington (1935). His work was introduced to me by pal, Doug Palmer, a couple of years ago, and there are dozens of his poem on this site. He moved to San Francisco, where he read his poetry at psychedelic rock concerts, helped produce underground newspapers, and became involved with the Beat Movement. He had long blond hair and granny glasses.
In the summer of 1961, he went camping with his wife and young daughter in Idaho's Stanley Basin. He spent his days hiking, and it was there, sitting next to trout streams with his portable typewriter, that he wrote his most famous work, Trout Fishing in America (1967).
Brautigan was raised in poverty; he told his daughter stories of his mother sifting rat feces from their supply of flour to make flour-and-water pancakes. Because of Brautigan's impoverished childhood, he and his family found it difficult to obtain food, and on some occasions they did not eat for days. He lived with his family on welfare and moved about the Pacific Northwest for nine years before the family settled in Eugene, Oregon in August 1944. Many of Brautigan's childhood experiences were included in the poems and stories that he wrote from as early as the age of 12. His novel So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away is loosely based on childhood experiences including an incident where Brautigan accidentally shot the brother of a close friend in the ear, injuring him only slightly.
On September 12, 1950, Brautigan enrolled at South Eugene High School, having graduated from Woodrow Wilson Junior High School. He was a writer for his high school newspaper South Eugene High School News. He also played on his school's basketball team, standing 6 feet 4 inches tall (1.93 m) by the time of his graduation. On December 19, 1952, Brautigan's first published poem, The Light, appeared in the South Eugene High School newspaper. Brautigan graduated with honors from South Eugene High School on June 9, 1953. Following graduation, he moved in with his best friend Peter Webster, and Peter's mother Edna Webster became Brautigan's surrogate mother. According to several accounts Brautigan stayed with Webster for about a year before leaving for San Francisco for the first time in August 1954. He returned to Oregon several times, apparently for lack of money.
On December 14, 1955, Brautigan was arrested for throwing a rock through a police-station window, supposedly in order to be sent to prison and fed. He was arrested for disorderly conduct and fined $25. He was then committed to the Oregon State Hospital on December 24, 1955, after police noticed patterns of erratic behavior.
At the Oregon State Hospital Brautigan was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and clinical depression, and was treated with electroconvulsive therapy 12 times. While institutionalized, he began writing The God of the Martians, a manuscript of 20 very short chapters totaling 600 words. The manuscript was sent to at least two editors but was rejected by both, and remains unpublished (A copy of the manuscript was recently discovered with the papers of the last of these editors, Harry Hooton.) On February 19, 1956, Brautigan was released from hospital and briefly lived with his mother, stepfather, and siblings in Eugene, Oregon. He then left for San Francisco, where he would spend most of the rest of his life except for periods in Tokyo and Montana.
All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds.
I didn't know the full dimensions of forever, but I knew it was longer than waiting for Christmas to come.
I don't want my daughter to be educated. I think women should just be decorative.
I'll think about things for thirty or forty years before I'll write it.
I'm in a constant process of thinking about things.
It's strange how the simple things in life go on while we become more difficult.
Probably the closest things to perfection are the huge absolutely empty holes that astronomers have recently discovered in space. If there's nothing there, how can anything go wrong?