invisible placeholder image
Novels > Dreaming of Babylon: A Detective Novel 1942

First published in 1977, Dreaming of Babylon was Richard Brautigan's eighth published novel and the fourth to parody a literary genre. Subtitled "A Private Eye Novel 1942" it parodied hard-boiled Grade-B detective stories.

Dedication reads:
This one is for Helen Brann
with love from Richard.
Helen Brann was Brautigan's literary agent. She began to represent Brautigan while working at The Sterling Lord Agency, and he continued with her when she opened her own agency, The Helen Brann Agency.
First USA Edition(s)

Front Cover New York: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1977
5.5" x 8.25"; 220 pages; ISBN-10 0-440-02146-4; ISBN-13 9780440021469
Hard Cover, with dust jacket
Black cloth boards; Gilt titled spine; Purple endpapers and topstain
Front dust jacket color illustration by Craig Nelson
No illustration or photograph on back
Initially, Brautigan intended to use a photograph of himself on the cover. A March 1977 photograph session in his Bolinas, California, home with photographer Erik Weber produced several photographs of Brautigan in a new detective fedora. However, Brautigan decided not to use any of these photographs for the cover.

Promotional Materials
Brautigan was photographed in a fedora, looking the part of a 1940s detective, as part of the promotional efforts for the book.

Publisher's information slip included with book reads in part
It is early 1942. You are in San Francisco, and you need a private eye. Sam Spade is rumored to be in Istanbul. The Continental Op has been drafted and is a sergeant in the Aleutians. Philip Marlowe is up at Little Fawn Lake investigating the disappearance of Mrs. Derace Kingsley. Lew Archer is in the army. Who's left? Nobody but C. Card. You haven't heard of C. Card? That's all right. Nobody has.

When you hire C. Card, the hero of Richard Brautigan's eighth novel, you have scraped the bottom of the private eye barrel. But you won't be bored. No, indeed. Because when C. Card finds some bullets for his gun, you will be in for some fast, funny, slam-bang private eye adventures. Unless of course C. Card starts dreaming of Babylon. If C. Card starts thinking of Babylon, all bets are off.

Not since Trout Fishing in America has Brautigan so successfully combined his wild sense of humor with the incredible poetic imagination he is rightfully famous for around the world. The adventures of seedy, not-too-bright C. Card, as he carefully wends his way between fantasy and reality. Babylon and San Francisco, are a delight to both the mind and the heart. Richard Brautigan is forty-two years old and has written eighteen books. He is an internationally known author whose works have been translated into fifteen languages. In the Spring of 1978, he will publish a volume of poetry called June 30th, June 30th.
Proof Copy
Front Cover Advance uncorrected proofs in yellow printed wrappers
220 pages
Publisher's information slip laid into review copies states publication date of 27 September 1977.

Inscribed Copies
Copy inscribed on title page to Robert Creeley
This copy is for Robert Creeley
with much love from Richard Brautigan
San Francisco
January 25, 1978
Edition inscribed is Delacorte Press, 1977

Brautigan inscribed copies of In Watermelon Sugar (1968), The Abortion (1971), The Hawkline Monster (1974), Dreaming of Babylon (1977), and June 30th, June 30th (1978) for Creeley.
Copy inscribed to Seymour Lawrence
This copy is for Sam Lawrence
wishing him a happy 1978
Richard Brautigan
San Francisco
December 21, 1977
Edition inscribed is First Edition, hardbound, 1977.

Lawrence published several of Brautigan's books, starting with the collection of Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, In Watermelon Sugar in 1969.
Other Editions

UK front cover London: Jonathan Cape, 1978
220 pages; ISBN 0-224-01592-3; First printing 13 April 1978
First United Kingdom Edition
Hard cover, with dust jacket
Light brown boards
Front dust jacket stylized illustration by Bert Kitchen of Brautigan as a private detective
New York: Dell Publishing, 1978
ISBN 0-385-28221-4; First printing 1 October 1978
Hard Cover, with dust jacket
New York: Dell Publishing, 1978
5.25" x 8"; 220 pages; ISBN 0-440-52059-2; First printing October 1978
Printed wrappers
Front cover Boston: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, 1991
5.5" x 8.25"; 159/220/216 pages; ISBN 0-395-54703-2: First printing February 1991
Printed wrappers
Collects, as facsimile reprints, A Confederate General from Big Sur, Dreaming of Babylon, and The Hawkline Monster in the manner of their original editions, including title pages and cover photographs. LEARN more >>>
Front cover London: Picador-Pan Books Limited, 1979
160 pages; ISBN 0-330-25843-5; First printing 7 September 1979
Printed wrappers
Front cover Mumpf, Switzerland: Theodor Boder Verlag, 2010.
Trans. Christine Bergfeld
ISBN: 978-3-905802-08-5
An audio book presented on two compact disks

Online Resources
Information about this audio book at the Theodor Boder Verlag website

Christiane Bergfeld's Anglo-German Translations website

Front cover El Detectiu que Somiava en Babilònia. Trans. Pep Julià. Barcelona: Editorial Pòrtic, S.A., 1989.
First Catalon edition
Printed wrappers
Front Cover Babylon-Drømmen, Detektivroman. Trans. Jan Bredsdorff, Copenhagen: Forlaget Per Kofod, 1990.
Second Danish edition
223 pages
Printed wrappers

Front Cover Babylon-Drømmen, Detektivroman. Trans. Jan Bredsdorff, Copenhagen: Forlaget Per Kofod, 1990.
First Danish edition
223 pages
Printed wrappers
Cover illustration by Paul Lange
Front Cover Dromen van Babylon, Een detectiveroman 1942. Trans. Jos Knipscheer. Bussum: Agathon, 1980.
Reproduces first American cover but translates all text to Dutch
Bourgois editions
Front cover Un Privé à Babylone. Trans. Marc Chénetier. Paris: Bourgois, 2003.
250 pages; ISBN 2-267-01700-8
Printed wrappers

Front cover Un Privé à Babylone. Trans. Marc Chénetier. Paris: Bourgois, 1985.

Un Privé à Babylone. Trans. Marc Chénetier. Paris: Bourgois, 1981.

Additional Resource
Lottman, Herbert R. "France: A Growing Taste for Anglo-American Authors." Publishers Weekly 4 September 2000: 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62-63.
An overview of the publishing industry in France and its interest in American writers. Notes that publisher Christian Bourgois says
"there's a new generation of French critics—and book buyers—curious about what comes out of America and prepared to embrace it." Bourgois . . . is one of the rare publishers in France (or anywhere for that matter) publishing under his own name—and independent. Not being able to afford the greats, Bourgois began with writers of his own generation, such as Richard Brautigan. (62)
Bourgois published several French translations of Brautigan's works including Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar, The Hawkline Monster, Willard and His Bowling Trophies, Sombrero Fallout, Dreaming of Babylon, The Tokyo-Montana Express, So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away, and Revenge of the Lawn.
10-18 editions
Front cover Un Privé à Babylone: Roman Policer, 1942. Trans. Marc Chénetier. Paris: 10-18, 2004.
ISBN: 2-264-03853-5
Printed wrappers

Front cover Un Privé à Babylone: Roman Policer, 1942. Trans. Marc Chénetier. Paris: 10-18, 1993.
1993 and 1999 edition:
ISBN 2-264-00466-5
Printed wrappers
Front cover illustration is a detail from Edward Hopper's 1942 painting "Nighthawks"

Un Privé à Babylone: Roman Policer, 1942. Trans. Marc Chénetier. Paris: 10-18, 1983.
Front cover Von Babylon Träumen: Eine Kriminalgeschichte im San Francisco von 1942. Trans. Christine Bergfeld. Mumpf, Switzerland: Theodor Boder Verlag, 2009.
168 pages; ISBN 978-3-905802-05-4
Printed wrappers
Cover illustration by Boris Braun

Online Resources
Information about this book at the Theodor Boder Verlag website

Christiane Bergfeld's Anglo-German Translations website
Front cover Träume von Babylon. Ein Detektivroman 1942. Reinbek by Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag (rororo 12637), 1991.
153 pages; ISBN 3-499-12637-0
Printed wrappers
Vogt, Jochen. "Reihenweise Taschenbücher: Der amerikanische Traum." Freitag (35) 23 August 1991: ***?***.
Richard Brautigan, ein Kultautor der Hippie-Generation, beläßt seinen Figuren nur noch imaginäre Welten als Ausstieg aus einer immer enger werdenden Wirklichkeit, beispielsweise in Träume von Babylon (1977), einer Parodie auf den "hartgesottenen" Detektivroman der vierziger Jahre, die inzwischen aber doch schon ein wenig abgestanden wirkt.
Front cover Träume von Babylon. Ein Detektivroman 1942. Trans. Günter Ohnemus. Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn Verlag, 1986.
232 pages; ISBN 3-821-80152-2
Printed wrappers
Proof copies marked "Leseexamplar" in upper right corner of front cover

Krüger, Michael. "Die Leichen im Kühlschrank: Brautigans Kriminalroman-Travestie 'Träume von Babylon'." Frankfurter Rundschau 1 October 1986: ***?***.

READ this review, in German.
Vesely, Rainer. "California Dreaming: Richard Brautigan im Eichborn Verlag." Falter 1986: ***?***.

READ this review, in German.
Träume von Babylon. Ein Detektivromam 1942. Tran. Günter Ohnemus. München: Ohnemus, 1983.
237 pages; ISBN 3-921-89508-1
Printed wrappers

Winter, Helmut. "Im Hintern ein paar Einschußlöcher: Richard Brautigans Detektivroman 'Träume von Babylon'." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 29 Sept 1983: ***?***.

READ this review, in German.
Front cover Sognando Babilonia. Trans. Peitro Grossi. Milano: Marcos y Marcos, 2002.

Online Resources
The first chapter, "Good News, Bad News," in Italian

Description in the Marcos y Marcos catalog

Feedback from Marco Zapparoli, publisher, Marcos y Marcos
Marco Zapparoli. Email to John F. Barber, 6 June 2002.
Front Cover Babylon o yume mite. Trans. Kazuko Fujimoto. Tokyo: Shinchosha, 1978.
241 pages
Front Cover Drømmer om Babylon. Trans. Erlend Loe. Oslo: Kagge Forlag, 2004.

Online Resources
Description in the Kagge Forlag catalog

Excerpts in the Norwegian newspaper Dagsbladets Helgemagasin
Front Cover Dar Ro'ya ye Babel [Dreaming of Babylon]. Trans. Payam Yazdanjoo. Tehran, Iran: Nashr e Cheshme, 2008.
238 pages; ISBN 978-964-362-387-6.
Front Cover Un Detective en Babilonia: Novela Negra. Trans. Kosián Masoliver. Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama, 1982.
First Spanish edition
Printed wrappers
Front cover Babili Düslemek. Trans. Çetin San and Banu Irmak. Istanbul: Altikirkbes Yayin, 2003.
First Turkish edition
Printed wrappers
In addition to the specific reviews detailed below, commentary about this book may also be included in General Reviews of Brautigan's work and his place in American literature, or reviews of his Collections.

Anonymous. "Brautigan, Richard." Choice January 1978: 1494.
The full text of this review reads
Brautigan's latest is a spoof of [Dashiell] Hammett, [Raymond] Chandler, et al.: a period detective piece that takes place in the San Francisco of 1942. His down-on-his-luck detective, C. Card, is in such desperate shape that he has to borrow bullets. Give the odd anachronism, the imitation is not bad but the resultant mix is more like a parody than sincere imitation; the whimsy is, by now, getting as tiresome as sixties' cant; and the fallback upon subplot, a device Brautigan seems to wish to patent, is without apparent aim. It is time someone gave the Brautigan turntable a kick; it is beginning to stick in a most familiar groove. Forgettable fun; an exercise for the children of Evelyn Wood.
—. "Brautigan, Richard." Kirkus Reviews 1 July 1977: 677.
The full text of this review reads
The year of the belles-lettres detective (Berger's Villanova, Feiffer's Ackroyd) finds unpredictable Richard Brautigan at his very breeziest—inside the mind of C. Card, the worst shamus in 1942 San Francisco, bereft of clients, cash, and companionship: "It's hard to find people to kiss when you haven't got any money in your pocket and you're as big a fuckup as I am." Today, however, there's a prospective client to meet, if only Card can avoid his rent-seeking landlady, scrounge bullets for his gun, and resit the delicious temptation to daydream of Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon ("just like a song playing on th radio in my mind"), where he stages such comic-strip adventures as Smith Smith Versus the Shadow Robots. Serendipity strikes—"Bullets for my gun! Five dollars! And best of all, a dead landlady!"—and the elegant, blond, beer-guzzling client hires Card to steal a murdered hooker's body from the morgue; this would be dandy if she hadn't also hired some gun-toting thugs to snatch the same cadaver and some razor-wielding blacks to ambush Card on his way to the 1:00 cemetery rendezvous. Neither parody nor genre re-creation, this cartwheeling fantasy is more like a sentimental comic book without the pictures—the Babylonian pipedreams and occasional Brautiganian whimsies ("As I walked along, I pretended that I had a prefrontal lobotomy") do their tricks without keeping C. Card from getting where he's going, which is nowhere. As a result, the deceptively simple sentences, the two-page chapters, and the surface amusements generate about the fastest 220 pages you'll ever read—leaving lots of extra time to wonder what, if anything, it all meant.
Bannon, Barbara A. "Dreaming of Babylon." Publishers Weekly 20 June 1977: 67.
The full text of this review reads
Even in 1942, with the ablebodied competition away at war, C. Card is the most unsuccessful private eye in San Francisco. His ineptness dates back to when he was beaned by a baseball and subsequently found himself dreaming of Babylon—quite unimaginative dreams, of playing ball in 596 B.C. or running a detective agency near the Hanging Gardens. Then a paying client appears on the scene—a rich beer-drinking blonde in a chauffeured Cadillack who offers Card $1000 to seal a body from the morgue. It takes him a while to get organized and find bullets for his gun, but eventually he hits the morgue, where he finds other people have been hired by the blonde to nab the same body. Confusion, car chases, and a final ambiguous scene with Card's mother at the cemetary. Brautigan tells his whimsical little tale in dozens of short chapters that will add up to something meaningful to those initiated into Brautigan land and lore.
Publishers Weekly 14 August 1978: 68.
Benoit, Claude. "El Regresso del Detective Privado [The Return of the Private Detective]." Cuadernos del Norte 4(19) 1983: 46-59.
Says "Richard Brantigan" [sic] is a writer who does not specialize in police novels, that his intention is parody, and that Dreaming of Babylon is a false police novel.
Brein, Alan. "The Voice of Vile Bodies." The Sunday Times [London] 16 April 1978: 41.
Reviews Success by Martin Amis, Hunt by A. Alvarez, and Dreaming of Babylon by Brautigan.

The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads
Richard Brautigan's Dreaming of Babylon is a short comedy-thriller, made even shorter by being divided into some 80 three-page chapters, thus leaving plenty of white space throughout. It is also thin—an attenuated tale of wartime San Francisco, where a luckless medically unfit private eye commissioned to steal a corpse from the morgue is continually hindered by his day-dreaming fantasies of life in old Babylon with a swinging Nebuchadnezzar and a lovely handmaiden Nana-dirat. Mildly funny, hardly ever thrilling, it is quite endearing in its eccentric, self-indulgent fashion but something of a let-down from the author of Trout Fishing in America.
Cawelti, John G. "Gumshoeing It." Chicago Sun-Times 28 August 1977, Sec. 3: 8.
[Dreaming of Babylon] is a sleek but sophomoric parody, and that's about it.
READ the full text of this review.
Cheval, Christophe. "Richard Brautigan: Un Privé à Babylone." Page Noir ***?***.

READ this review, in French.
Davis, Rick. "Dreaming of Babylon." West Coast Review of Books 4(1) January 1978: 33.

READ the full text of this review.

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 9. Ed. Dedria Bryfonski. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1978. 123-25.
Desruisseaux, Paul. "Brautigan's Mad Body-Snatcher." San Francisco Examiner 18 December 1977, This World [section]: 60.

READ the full text of this review.
Disch, Thomas M. "Dumber Than Dumb." The Times Literary Supplement [London] [3967] 14 April 1978: 405.

READ the full text of this review.
Feinstein, Elaine. "Fiction." The Times [London] 11 May 1978: 10.
Reviews Lancelot by Peter Vansittart, The Stone Door by Leonora Carrington, and Dreaming of Babylon by Brautigan.

The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads
Perhaps it is fatigued memories of battering my way round the Hayward Gallery that lead me to a certain querulousness in this matter of the fashionably surreal. Everything, from a burlesque thriller to a historical novel is gradually being subsumed to our need for it, as if we were insatiable for any form of magic that can transmute the otherwise ineluctable dinge of Now.

Take Richard Brautigan first—he's likely to be first off the shelves, anyway. This book, he's on a trip back to the Forties, with a lousy private-eye ruined by an obsessive day-dream of Babylon. Now as Philip Marlowe and Lemmie Caution enriched my early childhood with fairy-tales, I looked coldly upon the genial, cuddly-coated cartoon figure on the front cover, and opened Brautigan with a certain severity.

Dreaming of Babylon, however, is undoubtedly funny; as long, that is, as the private-eye is trying to bum some bullets for his gun, or picking-up slowly on the clues of a plot that centres on a little body-snatching for a classy lady client. I must also report I enjoyed to the full those poignant moments of imagined phone-calls between the failed private-eye and his unforgiving mother—a far cry, these, from memories of ol' Ma Caution's pithy advice. The only trouble is that the passionate day-dream which has so impeded his whole career, namely Babylon itself, doesn't work. There the fantasy fails. We understand the problem, if only because Walter Mitty suffered it before. But Babylon doesn't hold us.
Flaherty, Joe. "The Sam Spade Caper." The New York Times Book Review 25 September 1977, Sec. 7: 20.

READ the full text of this review.

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 9. Ed. Dedria Bryfonski. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1978. 123-25.
Fletcher, Connie. "Brautigan, Richard." The Booklist 15 November 1977: 525.
The full text of this review reads
Brautigan's linguistic antics and gallows humor are extremely apt in his "perverse mysteries." Babylon upends the conventional private eye novel. It also wreaks havoc with the line between fantasy and reality. The hapless hero, C. Card, has hit the skids as a private investigator; he spends half his time trying to rustle up some bullets for his gun and the other half resisting the inducements of an imaginary, perfect world. A masterful comedy mixed with pathos.
Grimaud, Isabelle. "Stranger than Paradise." Caliban 23 1986: 127-135.
Says that an opaque, illusory uncertainty pervades Dreaming of Babylon.
Grimes, Larry E[dward]. "Stepsons of Sam: Re-Visions of the Hard-Boiled Detective Formula in Recent American Fiction." Modern Fiction Studies 29(3) Autumn 1983: 535-544.
Examines re-visions of the hard-boiled detective formula in novels by three nondetective writers: Jules Feiffer's Ackroyd, Thomas Burger's Who is Teddy Villanova?, and Richard Brautigan's Dreaming of Babylon.

READ the full text of references to Brautigan.

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 42. Eds. Daniel G. Marowski and Roger Matuz. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1980. 48-66.
Grove, Lee. "An Alas and Alack for this Babylon." Boston Globe 6 November 1977: A32.

READ the full text of this review.
Hedborn, Mark. "Lacan and Postmodernism in Brautigan's Dreaming of Babylon." Literature and Film in the Historical Dimension. Gainsville: University Press of Florida, 1994: 101-110.
A Lacanian reading of the postmodern elements of Dreaming of Babylon seems to confirm through the allegory of a painfully fragmented self that the postmodern self, although often schizophrenic in the way that Fredric Jameson describes, is also potentially highly creative.
READ the full text of this review.
Hope, Mary. "Dreaming of Babylon." Spectator [London] 240(7816) 22 April 1978: 24.
Reviews Yesterday by Sian James, The Stone Door by Leonora Carrington, and Dreaming of Babylon by Brautigan.

READ the full text of the reference to Brautigan.

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 12. Ed. Dedria Bryfonski. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1980. 57-74.
Howard, Bert. "Brautigan Babylon Kills Private-Eye Mystique." Ottawa Citizen ***?***.
An unfavorable review. Concludes, "Dreaming of Babylon so obliterates the genre's mystique . . . that it makes you wonder if you can ever read another."

READ the full text of this review.
Krim, Seymour. "Brautigan's Mythical Trip into Bogart Country." Chicago Tribune Book World 25 September 1977, Sec. 7: 3.

READ the full text of this review.
Lee, Hermione. "Curtains." New Statesman 14 April 1978: 500.
Reviews Kalki by Gore Vidal, Yukiko by Macdonald Harris, and Dreaming of Babylon by Brautigan. Compares Brautigan's character/narrator, C. Card in Sombrero Fallout with Raymond Chandler's narrator, Vidal's Kalki, and Harris's Yukiko.

The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads
These four narrators are in deep trouble. Victims or witnesses of the most macabre and horrifying possibilities that modern life—particularly American life—allows, they are hanging on like grim death to a sense of themselves. But selfhood is violently at risk in these doom-laden thrillers; there is no room for heroes or heroines, and probably not even for human beings, any more.

[Discusses Vidal's Kalki and Harris's Yukiko.]

Harris's authenticity and Vidal's grown-up inventiveness make Brautigan look childish. His rules are too restrictive; his convention of negating or parodying all conventions has become tiresomely rigid. This winsome pastiche of Chandler only makes one yearn for Chandler's own solidity of plot and complexity of characters, attributes which a freewheeling minimalist fiction cannot afford. Instead, bijou chapterettes, not long enough to look serious, tell the story strip-cartoon style. Set in San Francisco, 1942, it follows the misfortunes of a hopeless but cute private-eye with no bullets to his gun, unable to concentrate because he's always dreaming of being a champion baseball player in 596 BC, who's employed by a daunting blonde to steal a corpse from a one-legged morgue attendant but is prevented by the ruthless Sergeant Rink, who quells his opponents by shutting them in the morgue ice-box with the stiffs. And so on.
Lemontt, Bobbie Burch. "Dreaming of Babylon." Western American Literature 13(3) Fall 1978: 302.

READ the full text of this review.
Miclot, James Murray. "Depolitization from Within: Not Taking a Fall with Richard Brautigan." Humanitas 6 (2) 1993: 15-44.

READ the full text of this review.
Petticoffer, Dennis. "Richard Brautigan." Library Journal 102(14) August 1977: 1674.
The full text of this review reads
Skulking through the bizarre underworld on the human consciousness, Brautigan describes a day in the life of private detective C. Card (as in "Seek Hard?"). The hero is sitting out World War II thanks to an ignominious injury suffered in the Spanish Civil War, when he imprudently planted his posterior on a pistol while answering nature's call. Card is a failure, his attempts to subsist above poverty level constantly interrupted by Walter Mitty-ish daydreams. Hired to steal the body of a murdered prostitute from the local morgue, the hero encounters a host of body-snatchers enlisted to perform the same deed. After a battery of harrowing escapades, Card emerges in possession of the body. Unfortunately, his prize goes unclaimed, and he's left not with a handsome monetary reward, but with the corpse of a beautiful young woman languishing in his refrigerator. Like previous efforts by the author, this is an entertaining, provocative fantasy which should delight and intrigue a whole range of readers.
Steiner, George. "Briefly Noted." New Yorker 21 November 1977: 230-236.
The full text of this review, which appears on page 230, reads
It is January 2, 1942, and C. Card [the protagonist of Dreaming of Babylon], the sorriest private eye in San Francisco, is down to his last chance. Dead broke, two months behind on his rent, unable even to buy bullets for his gun, he has one thing to look forward to: a meeting at six o'clock this evening with a mysterious client. All he has to do is keep the hunger pangs down, find some bullets, and stop dreaming of Babylon. Babylon is the fantasy world that C. Card escapes to whenever he can, and dreaming of Babylon is a sure way of missing his stop on the bus, losing touch with reality, and messing up in general. The suspense of waiting for that six o'clock meeting—and then of the tricky assignment that C. Card is given—is as mechanically constructed as a toy train, but that wouldn't be so bad if the payoff weren't so flat. Richard Brautigan has mastered all the forms of children's fiction—the short, easy-to-read sentences and paragraphs and chapters, the light touches of fantasy and humor—and children's fiction for adults is what this pretty skimpy book is all about.
Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 9. Ed. Dedria Bryfonski. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1978. 123-25.
Thwaite, Anthony. "Sour Smell of Success." The Observer 16 April 1978: 27.
Reviews Success by Martin Amis, Yukiko by Macdonald Harris, The Nightflower by Sally Rena, and Dreaming of Babylon by Brautigan.

The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads
Having recently seen the place for the first time, I thought for a moment or two that Richard Brautigan's Dreaming of Babylon might give me a new and bizarre insight into the fabled city; but—as I should have expected from earlier Brautigans—no such luck. Here we have the whimsical old drawler at it again, spilling out a trail of goofy inconsequences about a man who plays at being a private detective. For those who delight in this author's strenuously ingratiating facetiousness, another welcome offering; for the rest of us, another piece of inexplicable cultism.
Willeford, Charles. "Mysteries: Vintage Simenon." Miami Herald 16 October 1977: 7E.
Reviews The Iron Staircase and Maigret's Crossing, both by Georges Simenon, Gelignite by William Marshall, Pray To the Hustler's God by Jack Donahue, and Dreaming of Babylon by Brautigan.

The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads
The Dick-and-Jane prose style is undistinguished, and the deadpan narration by the first person hero is humorless. I don't doubt that Brautigan had a good time writing this book, but I had a bad time reading it.
Winks, Robin W. "Robin W. Winks on Mysteries." New Republic 26 November 1977: 34-37.
Reviews several examples of detective fiction including Not Sleeping, Just Dead by Charles Alverson, Death of an Expert Witness by P. D. James, The Man Without a Name by Martin Russell, The Gone Man by Brad Solomon, Burglars Can't be Choosers by Lawrence Block, Hazell and the Three-Card Trick by P. B. Yuill, The Terrorizers by Donald Hamilton, Rex Stout by John McAleer, The Book of Sleuths by Janet Pate, The Private Lives of Private Eyes and Spies, Crime Fighters, and Other Good Guys by Otto Penzler, The Consul's File by Paul Theroux, Temple Dogs by Robert L. Duncan, Unknown Man No. 89 by Elmore Leonard, and Dreaming of Babylon by Brautigan.

The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads
The latest established writer to try his hand at the private eye novel is Richard Brautigan. His admirers would argue that Dreaming of Babylon isn't a private eye novel at all, despite an explicit statement on the dust jacket to this effect, and as one would expect from the author of Trout Fishing in America, private eye C. Card doesn't prove to be competent, or even real. But he is amusing, and the writing has its unattractive yet effective moments. "God had done him a favor when He stalled his car one rainy night on some railroad tracks just outside of Merced. He had been a traveling salesman: brushes. After the train hit his car they couldn't tell the difference between him and his brushes. I think they buried him with some of his brushes in the coffin, believing they were part of him." Much of it is a parody of the hard boiled: "He looked as if he'd get a lot of pleasure out of going ten rounds with your grandmother and making sure she went the whole distance. Afterwards you could take her home in a gallon jar." Some is irredeemably vulgar: the coffee offered by the morgue attendant tastes "like he got it out of the asshole of one of his corpse friends." Some of it is just right: a cop, not fat, tells a rich lady that if she will tell all he will make it easy on her, and she froths forth with: "Listen, fat cop. First, these handcuffs are too tight. Second, I want a beer. Third, I'm rich and it's already easy for me." But I don't think that Brautigan is likely to come this way again.
Brief Mentions
Davis, J. Madison. "Tough Guys with Long Legs: The Global Popularity of the Hard-Boiled Style." World Literature Today 78(1) Jan.-April 2004: 36-40.
Mentions Brautigan's Dreaming of Babylon as an example of an amiable emulation and re-vision of the hard-boiled detective literary genre noted for its realism, social commentary, and police procedural form (39).