Brautigan fell from favor with both critics and readers during the decade of the 1980s. His work was not well received, he divorced his second wife, and finally killed himself in 1984. More information and resources about Brautigan, his life, and work during this decade are below.
Highlights: The Tokyo-Montana Express published . . . Divorces second wife, Akiko . . . writer in residence at University of Colorado Boulder . . . gives up Green Street apartment . . . Participates in readings and promotional tours for The Tokyo-Montana Express
Thursday, 10 January 1980
Citing irreconcilable differences, Brautigan filed a petition for divorce from Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), his second wife. They were married 1 December 1979, at Port Richmond, California, and separated on 4 December 1979. In court documents signed 9 January by Brautigan, he sought to retain copyrights to his poetry, books, short stories, and screen plays; sole ownership of his Montana and Bolinas, California, properties; all rights to his contract rights and royalties; the award of attorney's fees and costs; and relief from spousal support.
end of January 1980
Seeking to elevate The Tokyo-Montana Express from a collection of short stories to a novel, Brautigan added several previously published works to the evolving manuscript. This, Brautigan hoped, would distance this proposed book from the small collection of short stories to be published by William Targ. At the end of the month, Brautigan sent the manuscript to his literary agent, Helen Brann, who forwarded it to Dell Publishing. Not expecting Dell to publish the book, Brann made a deal with Seymour Lawrence, confirming a $35,000 advance to Brautigan upon contract signing.
Monday, 28 January 1980
Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) filed court documents seeking spousal support from Brautigan equivalent to the luxurious standard of living the couple enjoyed before their separation.
Thursday, 31 January 1980
Brautigan and Marcia Clay hosted an art and poetry reading party at Brautigan's 2170 Green Street apartment. Clay showed sixty of her paintings created over the past decade. Brautigan read poems written during the same time period. The party attracted more than 300 people. One was Alexander Besher who wrote a weekly business column for The San Francisco Chronicle. He and Clay met, started spending time together, and were married by the end of the year. This was the end of Brautigan's relationship with Clay.
Allegedly, Brautigan flew to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he visited the anthropology museum at the University of British Columbia and watched Chinese movies in Chinatown. (William Hjortsberg 656 and An Unfortunate Woman 7, 21)
Tuesday, 12 February 1980
The details regarding publication of The Tokyo-Montana Express were finalized by Brautigan's literary agent, Helen Brann and Seymour Lawrence. In addition to the advance already agreed, Brautigan was to receive another $25,000 if Dell or Laurel published a paperback edition. Additionally, he was to receive a 15 percent royalty on all hardback sales and retain all other rights. Publication date was set for October 1980.
The Targ limited edition of The Tokyo-Montana Express was published. The edition was limited to 350 copies, each priced at $50.00
Tuesday, 11 March 1980
Brautigan filed his Income and Expense Declaration papers with San Francisco County Superior Court in response to a request by attorneys for Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) who sought to determine Brautigan's financial ability to pay spousal support.
Thursday, 13 March 1980
Brautigan, who had filed a request that he be relieved of spousal support and attorney fees and costs was dealt a defeat when the court awarded Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) $1,900.00 per month in spousal support. The decision was made based on Brautigan's gross income, so his efforts to position some of his income as money owned but withheld from previous years, before he met Akiko, and therefore not eligible, were unsuccessful.
Monday, 24 March 1980
Brautigan filed a Motion for Reconsideration and Clarification, apparently in response to Akiko's earlier request for spousal support.
Tuesday, 1 April 1980
Brautigan rented a second story studio, above the entrance to Vesuvio Café, 255 Columbus, across the alley from City Lights Books. Cost: $125.00/month (William Hjortsberg 658). In March 1981, Roger Ressmeyer photographed Brautigan in this studio office, apparently for use in the promotional campaign associated with the publication of the Delacorte edition of The Tokyo-Montana Express. See below for these photographs. Brautigan moved the remaining items from his 2170 Green Street apartment into the the Army Street Mini-Storage, under the Southern Embarcadero Freeway. His storage unit was A-32; cost: $90.00 per month. Gone from the Green Street apartment, Brautigan rented a room at a cheap residential hotel in North Beach, where he attempted to commit suicide by ingesting pills (William Hjortsberg 661)
Tuesday, 8 April 1980
Brautigan filed a Request for Admission of Facts and Genuineness of Documents seeking that Akiko admit the truth of his ownership prior to their marriage of the Bolinas property, that his literary work was created prior to their marriage, and that he did not edit, amend, or update of these works during their marriage. His intent was to establish separate ownership to these properties.
Thursday, 17 April 1980
Following a 13 March 1980 hearing, and receipt of income and expense statements from both Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), Brautigan was ordered to pay $1,900.00 per month, one-half of the net cash flow from the rental of the house located at 6 Terrace Drive, Bolinas, California, and one-half of any income from community property beginning 1 February 1980 through October 1980, or the date of the divorce trial. Brautigan was also ordered to pay for Akiko's legal expenses.
Friday, 25 April 1980
Brautigan fired his lawyer, Sandra Musser, and hired Joel A. Shawn to handle his divorce proceedings.
early June 1980
Brautigan corrected the galley proofs for The Tokyo-Montana Express. Uncorrected proofs were sent to critics, editors, and, at Brautigan's request, other creative people including Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Walter Cronkite, and Bob Dylan. (William Hjortsberg 663)
Brautigan participated in the Fourth Annual San Francisco International Poetry Festival sponsored in part by City Lights Books. The festival was held Friday-Sunday, 6-8 June 1980, in the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina. This poster, promoting the festival, notes Brautigan's participation at 8:00 PM, Friday, 6 June. Artwork by Frances Butler.
In this photograph, Brautigan visits with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, publisher, and co-owner of City Lights Books.
Ferlinghetti was straightforward in his assessment of Brautigan's literary skills, saying,
As an editor I was always waiting for Richard to grow up as a writer. It seems to me he was essentially a naif, and I don't think he cultivated that childishness, I think it came naturally. (Peter Manso and Michael McClure 65)
Conger Beasley, Jr. agreed. Of Brautigan, he said,
He was a close to being a genuine naif as contemporary American culture is likely to produce. He relied on his marvelous instincts to propel him through a story; that, plus his droll humor and off-beat characters, gave his novels a funky rhythm. (Conger Beasely 3)
Brautigan's deposition scheduled for 1 July 1980, in the offices of his lawyer, San Francisco, California. Akiko's deposition scheduled for 3 July, in the offices of her lawyer, San Francisco. Brautigan submitted his deposition on 2 July 1980.
Tuesday, 1 July 1980
Brautigan was deposed in the office of his lawyer, Joel A. Shawn, by the lawyer for his wife, Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa). She was deposed on 3 July.
Brautigan left as quickly as possible for Pine Creek, Montana, after his deposition. There, he started an affair with neighbor Marian Hjortsberg, whose husband, William "Gatz" Hjortsberg, had left her after starting an affair with another woman.
Four Japanese radio journalists arrived at Brautigan's Pine Creek ranch unannounced, wanting to interview Brautigan and record various sounds at his Montana home. They represented FM Tokyo and Pioneer stereo equipment and had come to record a commercial for the Pioneer "Lonesome Carboy" car stereo system. The finished commercial included sounds of steam engines and Brautigan promoting his upcoming book, The Tokyo-Montana Express. Terry McDonell wrote about this visit in his article, "Fish This", forSports Afield, April 1999.
Seymour Lawrence visited Brautigan to discuss the evolving plans for his upcoming promotional tour. Lawrence had arranged speaking appearances for Brautigan at various small, little-known colleges, at $1,500 per appearance. Book signings were planned and books and posters were shipped to Denver and Boulder, Colorado, bookstores in time for Brautigan's upcoming residency at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Brautigan visited Boulder, Colorado, as writer-in-residence at the University of Colorado Boulder. The residency was arranged by Edward Dorn, author of "In Memoriam: Richard Brautigan" (The Denver Post Empire Magazine May 19, 1985: 22-23, 25, 27) and his wife Jennifer Dunbar Dorn author of "The Perfect American" (The Denver Post Empire Magazine May 19, 1985: 23, 31). Both had been in Boulder since the fall of 1977. Brautigan stayed at the Hotel Boulderado, in a choice corner room. He visited the Dorn's daily at their home at 1035 Mapleton in Boulder. One of the many people Brautigan met there was Brad Donovan, a former student of Ed Dorn's. Brautigan invited Donovan and his wife Georgia to visit him in Montana. Donovan wrote about some of their experiences in his memoir Food Stamps for the Stars and his tribute Brautigan & The Eagles.
Brautigan delivered a small reading and talk at the Chautauqua Auditorium. In this photograph by Mark Billingsley, Brautigan signs books following a reading in Boulder.
Sunday, 20 July 1980
At a party hosted in his honor by Ginger Perry at her house at 744 University, Brautigan met Masako Kano, a Japanese summer exchange student pursuing a masters degree in English Literature at Hofstra University in New York City. Through the student exchange program, Kano was in Boulder for the summer taking two English literature courses for credit and conducting research on her thesis topic, the plays of William Butler Yeats, at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Brautigan and Kano became involved and spent time together in Boulder. According to Kano, Brautigan left once, alone, for San Francisco, "for his usual lecture or poetry reading" (Email to John F. Barber, 26 July 2011), but it is more likely that Brautigan returned to San Francisco for a court appearance or a meeting with his lawyer with regard to his pending divorce from Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa).
Friday, 1 August 1980
Both Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) signed a Marital Settlement Agreement in San Francisco County Superior Court. By terms of the agreement, Brautigan was to pay $1400.00 per month spousal support starting 1 August 1980 and continuing through 31 December 1981, or until Akiko's death or remarriage. Beginning 1 January 1981, Akiko agreed to waive any right to receive any money or property from Brautigan as spousal support. Both parties agreed that no other court would have jurisdiction to award spousal support to be paid by Brautigan to Akiko as a result of any relationship or transaction between them prior to that date.
Brautigan and Akiko were each awarded half of their community property as well as defined separate property. Brautigan's separate property included four properties in Livingston, Montana; one property in Bolinas, California; interest in, right to, and profit from June 30th, June 30th, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, Dreaming of Babylon, The Abortion, Revenge of the Lawn, Sombrero Fallout, Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar, Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork, The Hawkline Monster, A Confederate General from Big Sur, Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt, The Tokyo-Montana Express, Willard and His Bowling Trophies, The Galilee Hitch-Hiker, Lay the Marble Tea, The Octopus Frontier, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, and Please Plant This Book; works in progress: The Tokyo-Montana Express (Targ edition), So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away, and Japanese UFO; his fly fishing rods, reel, and line; and his 1969 Plymouth Fury automobile.
Back in Montana after his residency at the University of Colorado Boulder, Brautigan sent Masako Kano an airplane ticket for her flight to Bozeman. Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe visited as well and she and Kano, being about the same age, become good friends.
Brautigan and Masako hosted a Labor Day party at Brautigan's Pine Creek ranch. Brautigan cooked Swedish meatballs.
Feedback from Masako Kano
In Boulder, I lived with Joyce Lebra, a professor in the university History Department and a very good friend of my father, Masamichi Kano. I called her Joycie Obachan (Auntie Joyce) as a young child, and she gave me a pretty American play doll with blond curly hair and blue eyes with long eyelashes. None of my kindergarten friends in Tokyo had anything like that. She was the last person to interview Mishima Yukio, avant-garde novelist, three-time candidate for the Nobel Prize for literature, before he committed ritual suicide following his failed coup d'état attempt with four followers at the headquarters of the Japanese Defense Force, Tokyo, 25 November 1970. I helped her with translations for her research on Japanese military history while she was a resident researcher at Tokyo University in 1978.
At the party where we met, Richard introduced himself as a writer and asked if I knew his name, I just shook my head because I had never heard anything about his works. I read the introduction of June 30th, June 30th to his friends and remember how silence fell in the room. I thought this anachronistic looking poet must have many followers. Later, he insisted that I show him the poems and prose I wrote in English for my university's serendipity magazine and he discussed them with Ed and Jennifer Dorn. This was my first notice of Richard's trait of discussing matters associated with me with other senior friends, either in person or through long distance telephone calls, while never sharing anything concrete about what he really thought of me.
After a whimsical courtship involving a stuffed bear's head given him by a female friend [Simone Ellis] in Boulder, I ceremoniously became Richard's girlfriend. My parents and Joyce were very concerned about my involvement with Richard and to this date his name is atop the proud Kano clan's secret list because with this affair I intentionally broke the marriage engagement with another political family arranged by my grandfather when I was a baby.
We left Boulder in August, after arranging permissions from Joyce Lebra and my father. Richard had an intense meeting with Joyce to negotiate the whole procedure, and finally she persuaded my father on the phone. Richard spoke with him on the phone too. Richard told my father that he [Richard] had a daughter similar in age to me and he understood how my father felt. I was quite fed up with them discussing my fate because it seemed that the affair that was supposed to make me a free woman still conjured all sorts of negotiations between elders, including Richard. But he was a kind of samurai responsible for me going to Montana, Big Sky, so in that sense, he seemed quite a traditional guy. It was not actually helping me to be a liberated feminist as my Auntie Joyce hoped for me! We went to Yellowstone National Park together and then to his Montana ranch. He told me a story of camping in Yellowstone and how a grizzly bear's shadow flickered on the canvas wall of the tent as the bear passed in front of the fading campfire.
There in Montana, I met Richard's friends. I had never met people wearing cowboy boots and guns on their hips. It was like a movie set for me. Richard's friends were glad to see me and very nice and open hearted but I felt more like Richard's exotic pet than a real girlfriend being so much younger than most everyone except for Ianthe.
Richard was wonderful at entertaining me in very charming and creative ways. He once exhibited a collection of wonderful musical instruments borrowed from Dobro Dick and decorated the table with daisies for me. We hosted some parties. He liked cooking beef stroganoff with fresh dills and sour cream. I tried some smoked trout sushi and curried rice. He once showed me how to cut mushrooms in the traditional Japanese way with a very sharp knife. We also did a lot of fun outdoor things like flying kites with his friends' children, and trout fishing, sometimes with Greg Keeler, sometimes without. Richard liked taking a nap on a rock when we fished little streams alone and asked me to sing while he lay quietly by the side of the stream. I sang Japanese nursery songs, school choir songs in English, and Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria," oddly his favorite, over the sound of the stream. He showed me how to shoot cans with a BB gun in the backyard, but I preferred to go fishing. I noticed the bullet holes in the kitchen wall and saw where he stored his rifles. I preferred to be outside, reading on a blanket, than to be inside the house while Richard worked in his writing room in the barn. Sometimes, I sat on the stairs in front of the barn, listening to the sound of his typewriter, watching the gorgeous sunset over the Montana mountains to the west, strangely feeling at home, for I grew up listening to the sound of the typewriter my father constantly used for his writings and translations.
Richard at that time was in a great deal of pain because of his divorce from his wife, Akiko. I saw this pain for the first time in Montana when he talked on the telephone with her, or his lawyer. I did not feel jealous or upset, but rather frightened about the love turned into so much pain. One day I found a letter from Akiko's aunt, left open on an empty shelf in the living room, written in Japanese, which Richard could not read. Akiko's aunt encouraged her to keep growing cabbage in the garden. I went to see the garden in which they tried to grow fresh produce. It was abandoned. All the plants were dried and lifeless. I felt a kind of loneliness for Akiko through reading that letter. The physical condition of that letter seemed to suggest that it had been read many times. I felt the euphoric love of a midsummer's night dream between Richard and myself in Boulder was slowly fading away inside the coolness of his Montana house. Outside, the aspen trees in the fields turned a bright yellow color.
Deviating from the memory in Montana, here perhaps I should explain a bit about my paternal family background. My paternal grandfather, Kizo Kano, was the chief editor of the newspaper called Nishi-Nippon Shinbun, which before the war was the top circulated newspaper in the southern island of Kyushu. Before World War II, he published several books of his own, as well as translations from English and German, on foreign affairs, political geology, and education. My grandfather Kizo was a true academic, and romantic. He recited the poems of Hakushu Kitahara to his grandchildren, studied at Berlin University and wrote beautifully in English and German. However he was drowning in political activities because of his friendships with Shigemaru Sugiyama, Seigo Nakano, Tanzan Ishibashi, Taketora Ogata, and the Genyosha group.
My father went to Shuyuksn High School, where the son of Sugiyama and the writer Kyusaku Yumeno also attended. He shared the same sentiments with another son of Sugiyama, Tatsumaru, about the heavy political shadows their fathers threw into their lives after the war. Tatsumaru Sugiyama, in my opinion, was a brave hero of postwar conscience with its theme of pacifism and ecology of the Earth, which, if my father were still alive, he would share. Prominently multilingual, my father took a job translating for the USA medical doctors who came to treat "hibakushia" patients and conduct research at the Atomic Bomb Centre hospital in Nagasaki. His mentor, Father Joseph Roggendorf at Sophia University where he assisted as a lecturer in English Studies, introduced him to this job. This work helped to support the family, especially since grandfather Kizo was not able to work during the occupation period under General Douglas Macarthur. My father had to swear not to share any information about his work with anyone outside the hospital.
He hated to be involved in the political game like his father and so left his birthplace, Fukuoka, and started working as a journalist in Tokyo. He wrote regularly for the Oriental Economist and The Study of Current English. He was also famous for his technical translations among fast moving multinational companies like NEC and Fujitsu in the 1970s. He could translate in twelve different languages. He helped his friend Shinji Takano to compile a book in English on Japanese wild birds in the 1970s. He was also an avid chess player. My father died of acute stomach cancer, in July 1982, at 56. I sometimes wonder if his involvement helping those doctors at the Atomic Bomb Centre hospital made his life shorter than it supposed to be, since he would have been exposed to the still very strong radiation at that time. I was very close to my father and his death was a great loss to me. Richard consoled me in very beautiful way on the phone after the funeral of my father and sent me a caring, personal letter. It was actually my father's death that brought Richard and I close together again as it prompted him to visit Japan.
Shuntarõ Tanikawa, Shuji Terayama, Junnosuke Yoshiyuki, and Akiyoshi Nosaka were frequent guests and patrons of the Cradle Bar in Roppongi owned and managed by Richard's friend Shinna Takako. He went there almost every night while in stayed in the expensive Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku. They were a bit younger than my father’s generation, as they were still middle school students at the end of the war. But the wound of growing up in post World War II Japan was felt strongly in conversations and writers' talks with Richard whose first impression of Japan was the Pearl Harbor attack and the death of his uncle in the war as he described in the introduction to June 30th, June 30th. When Richard returned to Japan and saw me again in 1983 and 1984, we often talked about Japanese modern literature in the sense of how to reconstruct identities after the enemy (America) turned into material God for the Japanese youth.
Richard's fascination with Japan has been generalized, even mocked, in reviews of his work and in obituaries after his death. Several writers assumed his attraction to Japan was that of a poet's imagination of exotic places, or his attraction to Japanese females. I assure you it was not. Like most American writers who visit Japan, Richard could not read Japanese, but he read Japanese literature extensively in English translation when he was young and developed a deep understanding of past and current Japanese writers and literature. Richard seemed to have been helped to understand Japanese culture, literature, and art mainly from interaction with Takako Shiina (often referred to as Richard's Japanese sister) and her admirers, including writer Junnosuke Yoshiyuki and other contemporary writers and modernist poets like Shuntarõ Tanikawawho who patronized her bar, The Cradle, as well as the directors of independent theaters and movies.
Richard was delighted that he had found a younger headstrong Japanese girlfriend who shared his passion for talking about the literary world. However, literary tastes between Richard and me were very different. I recall with a smile that he was rather terrified one day when he found out that in the book Modern American Literary Criticism he was placed neck to neck with Vladimir Nabokov who was my father's and my favorite writer at home. Papa read from the book to me in Russian.
I have no idea why Richard hated Nabokov so much, for he could not explain it clearly when I asked. Perhaps he did not approve of the media controversy surrounding Lolita , especially its banning. I remember that we argued about the book Richard did not read, Glory, translated by Nabokov's son into English in 1971. My father mentioned the original title is something like "exploit." I thought the ending scene of Martin Edelweiss disappearing across border into the Soviet Union in the snow was so absolutely wonderful, but Richard dismissed my comment with his snort! Perhaps he just had to deny all those writers with Cornell, Harvard, and Yale university backgrounds ignoring other regional writers who also published novels.
Discussing Japanese literature was much more fun for Richard and he even forgot to fill his drink while we argued. Richard must have thought of me a rather odd fish. With all 1980s economic glories shining in Tokyo, I, much younger than Richard, who was praised as the futuristic deconstructionist writer, and stood like an aloof worrier, often argued with him, defending the old fashioned attitude that literature needs to have a moral value in its core. I argued that despite the idiosyncrasy of Mishima's private life, his novels deepened the understanding of human nature, and to me, were not comparable with Richard's favorite, "Dark Room" by Junichiro Yoshiyuki, or work by Osamu Dazai, or the plays of Shuji Terayama. I introduced Richard to Terayama's beautiful 'tankas," Japanese traditional formatted poems, which were less famous than his plays and movies. He really enjoyed me translating them into English after I read them to him in Japanese.
My favorite Japanese writer in the group of Richard's friends' was Hiroyuki Itsuki who was not really known outside of Japan, but wrote beautifully of the human pains and hopes to survive through catastrophes. His recent works show how he matured to seek the calmness and balance in Buddhism. I wished Richard would have known him. He was a young survivor of Soviet invasion of Manchuria in 1945. He was also from Kyushu Island. Richard was more attentive of me explaining other writers in "the Third Generation," in which his friend Junnosuke Yoshiyuki was included, especially those writers whose main novels were not translated into English. I also shared with Richard my favorite writers at that time, Kunio Tsuji (not the poet who became Richard's friend, but the novelist), Natsuki Ikezawa, Sawako Ariyoshi, Ayako Sono, and Yoshimi Usui whose work prompted us to visit together the countryside near Azumino, in Nagano prefecture, when Richard visited Japan in 1983.
Like we did in Pine Creek, Montana, we strolled through the stream of people on the Yamanote platform, the street of Omotesando, and through Yasukuni Shinto shrine and park, continuing our heated discussion until the skies got dark and I had to go home to my mother and Richard, after escorting me to the ticket booth of Keio Private Line, went to the Cradle Bar and another night of deep drinking in Roppongi.
Now back to Montana, in October 1980. My parents flew from Tokyo to New York City for my father's lecture tour organized by the Buddhist Educational Fund and Professor Fukuoka of Rissho University. I flew to New York to see my parents. Richard made me swear that I would return to him. He planned to arrange that I could finish my thesis while attending Montana State University as an exchange student. I remember Richard was planning a lecture tour and was worried about how to protect my identity. He had promised my father not to reveal my identity.
In New York, my parents and university administrators convinced me that I needed to return to my graduate studies in order to keep my assistantship, which I depended upon for access to research materials. My father told me that he would not provide the money for my living expenses if I returned to Montana. So, I had to call Richard and tell him that I would not return to Montana. I was torn by this decision, as I really wanted to be different, but I knew that I needed to finish by educational degree. After I graduated, I returned to Tokyo, Japan.
So, Richard and I went separate paths. We stayed in touch through letters and met again in January 1983 and May 1984 when Richard visited Tokyo. My last contact with Richard was a hand-written note from him saying he would come back to Japan in the fall of 1984.
I must confess that I became Richard's girlfriend totally oblivious about his fame and his writings. In a way, the Richard I loved was not a famous writer, but just what he was as a man, and perhaps, a born poet. I got quite irritated if his ego blew out of size and was not afraid of saying so to him. Not all of his writings are literary masterpieces. I loved his poetry rather than prose after I started reading his books, though Marc Chéntier's study made me think more deeply about his style. (Richard came back from Paris and made me read aloud the English translation of Marc's book for him). I praise Richard's friend Don Carpenter's novel Hard Rain Falling for how he, like Richard, and other anti-East Coast writers achieved a common protagonist's honest voice. I myself have written some short stories in English recently, and find that poetic diction can provide such a base without the psychological nitty gritty. That was exactly what Richard conveyed in his prose writing. Though I think I am far more political than Richard as the content goes.
I will end with a poem dedicated to Richard. If the Brautigan.net website is for holding a torch for the spirit of the poet/writer, Richard's ghost would like to read the poem dedicated to him by his Puck, the nickname he gave me from Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream.
From every walk of life you could find me
You were a wind, a transparent wind,
It is not necessary to build
A wall of words between us.
From every walk of life we just left us,
One alone stopped on that open road
Winding up to a promised sky,
Wondered, if we would ever dream us?
Half inside of one thunderous night,
Our hide-and-seek in hunter's woods
Warped, danced and scratched us.
Only the heat of embrace remains . . .
From every walk of life I see you through me
You are the wind, the transparent wind,
No, it is not necessary to build
A wall of words between us.
Masako Kano, July 30, 2011
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Masako Kano. Emails to John F. Barber, 26, 27, 28, 29 July 2011.
Thursday, 18 September 1980
The Marital Settlement Agreement between Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) was amended regarding the language of spousal support. Simplified and streamlined, the amended language stated that spousal support could not be modified by either party or any court having jurisdiction to award spousal support on any ground. Akiko signed the document on 23 September 1980; Brautigan on 24 September 1980.
Masako Kano left Montana and returned to Hofstra University, under pressure from her family. Brautigan tried to convince her to transfer to Montana State University, in Bozeman, Montana, and complete her graduate studies there. It was clear, however, to both she and Brautigan knew that she would not return. They remained friends, meeting in Tokyo, Japan, in 1983 and 1984. Kano was with Brautigan at the Keio Plaza Hotel while he typed the poem "Night Flowing River" and assisted both Brautigan and Shuntarõ Tanigawa who translated the poem into Japanese for its first publication in Asahi Shinbun, the top-circulated newspaper in Japan at the time.
Cheryl McCall, a writer for People Weekly magazine, arrived to write an article about the actors, writers, and artists living in Paradise Valley, Montana. Her article, "Bloomsbury Comes to Big Sky," was published 3 November 1980. Photographer Michael Abramson accompanied McCall and photographed Brautigan fishing Armstrong Creek with artist and painter Russell Chatham, who, in his memoir "Dust to Dust" (Dark Waters. Livingston, MT: Clark City Press, 1988. 28-34) recounts Brautigan as fragile and sensitive, not a macho hunter. This photograph illustrated Russell's memoir.
Steve Chapple visited Brautigan in Pine Creek, for an interview to be published in The San Francisco Chronicle as part of the promotional efforts surrounding the forthcoming publication of The Tokyo-Montana Express.
Near the end of the month, Brautigan returned to San Francisco, where he took a room at the Kyoto Inn, in the downtown Japanese district.
Thursday, 30 October 1980
The San Francisco County Superior Court approved the Marital Settlement Agreement between Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa). Brautigan signed the court document on this date in San Francisco, California.
Saturday, 1 November 1980
Excerpts from Brautigan's forthcoming The Tokyo-Montana Express were published in California Living, the magazine section of The Chronicle. These excerpts included "California Mailman," "The Beacon," "Open," "The Butcher," and "Sunday." The article was entitled "Five Stops on the Tokyo-Montana Express."
Sunday, 2 November 1980
Brautigan began a speaking and book signing tour in support of The Tokyo-Montana Express. Brautigan took an evening airplane flight to Seattle/Tacoma, Washington.
Monday, 3 November 1980
Brautigan signed copies of The Tokyo-Montana Express in the afternoon at Walden Books in the Tacoma Mall. At 8:00 PM, Brautigan gave a reading at the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, Washington. After the reading, Brautigan was interviewed by Jim Erickson from the Tacoma News Tribune.
Tuesday, 4 November 1980
Brautigan took a morning flight to St. Louis, Missouri. From there he took a flight to Memphis, Tennessee, and from there he flew to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he gave a reading to students from the honors college at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Wednesday, 5 November 1980
Brautigan took an early morning flight to Atlanta, Georgia, where he transferred to a flight to Los Angeles, California. From Los Angeles, he flew to Eugene, Oregon, his first return to his boyhood hometown since he left in 1956. He gave an evening reading at the University of Oregon.
Thursday, 6 November 1980
After a 9:00 AM book signing party at the University of Oregon bookstore, Brautigan flew back to San Francisco, California.
The Tokyo-Montana Express was printed in October (three printings; 30,000 hardback copies by 22 October) but officially released on this date. To celebrate, Seymour Lawrence and Delacorte Press arranged a party at Enrico's from 3:00-7:00 PM. During the event, Brautigan met Eunice Kitagawa, a young Hawaiian woman, and connected immediately. They remained friends for the rest of Brautigan's life.
As part of the promotional effort, an interview by Steve Chapple, drawn from his visit with Brautigan in Pine Creek, Montana, in October, appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle Review, along with photographs of Brautigan and Enrico Banducci, owner of Enrico's.
Friday, 7 November 1980
Brautigan's divorce from Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), his second wife, earned a final judgement in San Francisco County Superior Court. The judgement was filed 10 November and entered into Court records 12 November 1980.
Sunday, 9 November 1980
Brautigan traveled to Boise, Idaho, where he gave an 8:00 PM reading to students at Boise State University.
Monday, 10 November 1980
Brautigan met with an undergraduate class at Boise State University before attending an autograph part at the Book Shop on Boise's Main Street. In the afternoon, Brautigan flew to Denver, and then took a connecting flight to Newark, New Jersey. He spent the night in New York City.
Tuesday, 11 November 1980
Brautigan traveled by commuter train to Pougkeepsie, New York, where he gave an 8:00 PM reading in the Dutchess Hall Theatre at Dutchess Community College.
Wednesday, 12 November 1980
Brautigan flew to New York in the morning, and then on to Chicago, Illinois. He gave an 8:00 PM reading in the Ironwood Room at Triton College, in River Grove, a suburb of Chicago.
Thursday, 13 November 1980
Brautigan signed copies of The Tokyo-Montana Express from noon until 1:00 PM. He then flew to Lincoln, Nebraska, for a five-day residency at the University of Nebraska.
Brautigan flew from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Chicago, Illinois, and from there, on to Seattle, Washington. He signed copies of The Tokyo-Montana Express from 1:00 to 2:30 PM at the B. Dalton Bookstore in Alderwood Mall at Lynnwood, Washington. From there he was driven to Everett Community College, in Everett, Washington, where he met with a class in the late afternoon. He gave reading in Bookstore Conference Room at 7:30 PM, and signed copies of his newest novel, after which he signed copies of his newest novel.
Monday, 17 November 1980
Brautigan took an early morning flight from Seattle, Washington, to Missoula, Montana, where he signed copies of The Tokyo-Montana Express at 3:00 PM at the B. Dalton Bookstore in Southgate Mall. Brautigan spoke and read in the University Center Ballroom at the University of Montana at 8:00 PM. As with all his previous appearances, Brautigan was paid a $1,500 fee, plus 15 percent of all sales of hardback copies of his newest novel.
Tuesday, 18 November 1980
Brautigan flew to Denver, Colorado, and was driven to Greeley where he gave an 8:00 PM reading at the University of Northern Colorado.
Wednesday, 19 November 1980
Brautigan flew from Denver to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was driven to Conway to Hendricks University. Brautigan delivered his standard reading/presentation at 8:00 PM.
Saturday, 22 November 1980
Brautigan flew from Little Rock, Arkansas, to New York City. He arranged for Eunice Kitagawa to fly from San Francisco and join him for the weekend. They stayed at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Kitagawa returned to San Francisco in time for work on Monday.
Brautigan participated in a 8:00 PM poetry reading at the Kaufman Concert Hall, 92nd Street YM-YWHA, New York. Robert Creeley introduced Brautigan. A book signing followed.
Tuesday, 25 November 1980
Brautigan missed a 1:00 PM book signing at Brentano's in Greenwich Village because he was feeling ill. Brautigan called Kitagawa and invited her to join him in New York for Thanksgiving. She flew from San Francisco on Wednesday night, after work.
Thursday, 27 November 1980
Brautigan, Kitagawa, Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe, and her boyfriend, Paul Swensen, celebrated Thanksgiving by ordering room service and eating in Brautigan's Gramercy Park Hotel room.
Saturday, 29 November 1980
Brautigan and Kitagawa joined Norman Mailer for dinner at his Brooklyn Heights apartment.
Sunday, 30 November 1980
Brautigan was interviewed in his Gramercy Park Hotel room by Spencer Vibbert of the Boston Globe who wanted a story for the Tuesday edition to coincide with Brautigan's upcoming visit to Boston.
Monday, 1 December 1980
Brautigan taped an interview with David Cole for his program Here Come the Seventies aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation this morning. In the afternoon, he taped an interview with Gil Fox for ABC radio. In the evening, he flew to Boston, Massachusetts, and checked into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel overlooking the Boston Public Garden.
Tuesday, 2 December 1980
Brautigan met with Joe Fischer, a reporter for the Toronto Star at 1:00 PM. At 8:00 PM, Brautigan gave a reading in the offices of the Harvard Advocate, the nation's oldest continually published literary magazine.
Wednesday, 3 December 1980
Brautigan took a morning flight to Detroit, Michigan, and then traveled on to the University of Toledo in Ohio. At 8:00 PM he gave his standard reading at an event sponsored by the Toledo Poets Center Arts Council.
Thursday 4 December 1980
Brautigan flew from Detroit to San Francisco, California, book promotion tour finished. He immediately moved into Eunice Kitagawa's Vallejo Street apartment, convient to both Enrico's and his office above Vesuvio Café.
Thursday, 25 December 1980
Brautigan spent Christmas in Mendocino, California, with Eunice Kitagawa.
Highlights: finishes manuscript for So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away . . . article about his inability to drive published in People Weekly magazine . . . readings and presentations
Brautigan reconnected with his literary agent, Helen Brann, regarding his manuscript for So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away. Brautigan began the first draft in June 1979, based on an earlier work he called The Pond People of America, based on his childhood in the Pacific Northwest. For example, the beginning of Chapter 4 reads
In April it was spring and I began my discovery of the ponds, which led me step by step down the road to the pond people and into their camp and into their pond houses and into their pond furniture and everything pond.
Brautigan changed the title to So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away, inspired by the song "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas. Brautigan liked the idea that everyone was, in the end, only dust in the wind (William Hjortsberg 631). Not wanting the novel to become part of the settlement, Brautigan set the manuscript aside prior to his divorce from Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), his second wife.
Brann contacted Seymour Lawrence who negotiated with Dell Publishing and a contract was offered Brautigan by 23 January. He was to receive $45,000.00 in advance, half at the signing of the contract, the other half upon delivery of the finished contract. Additionally, he would receive 15 percent of every hardback sale. The contract was signed on 18 February (William Hjortsberg 692).
Friday, 13 February 1981
Brautigan traveled to Boulder, Colorado, where, as with his previous trip, he stayed at the Hotel Boulderado.
Tuesday, 24 February 1981
Brautigan traveled from Boulder, Colorado, to Bozeman, Montana, where he visited with Greg Keeler, faculty member of the English Department at Montana State University. Brautigan taught one of Keeler's classes and made a good impression on the acting head of the department.
Saturday, 21 March 1981
Following on interest generated by his promotional tour for The Tokyo-Montana Express, Brautigan was contacted by People Weekly magazine. The magazine wanted an article about Brautigan and assigned Cheryl McCall, who had written an earlier piece about the literary and art scene in Paradise, Montana, "Bloomsbury Comes to Big Sky," published 3 November 1980. McCall was interested in the fact that Brautigan did not drive, and decided to make that the focus of her article, which would be styled as an interview with Brautigan. San Francisco photographer Roger Ressmeyer was hired to provide photographs of Brautigan for the article. Ressmeyer took several head-and-shoulders portraits of Brautigan.
Ressmeyer also photographed Brautigan riding around San Francisco in a rickshaw pulled by friend Dwain Richard Cox. The first photograph in the series below was used to illustrate McCall's interview with Brautigan. The other two were not used. McCall's interview was published 8 June 1981. See below for more information.
Ressmeyer photographed Brautigan socializing with friends at Enrico's Cafe, a popular North Beach gathering spot at Broadway and Kearney, near City Lights Books. The first photograph in the series below was used to illustrate McCall's interview with Brautigan. The second photograph was not used. McCall's interview was published 8 June 1981. See below for more information about both appearances.
Finally, Ressmeyer photographed Brautigan posing on the train tracks and in front of junked automobiles at a San Francisco dock. The first photograph in the series below was used to illustrate McCall's interview with Brautigan. McCall's interview was published 8 June 1981. See below for more information.
Brautigan was featured in a People Weekly magazine interview by Cheryl McCall, "A Happy But Footsore Writer Celebrates His Driver's Block" (People Weekly 8 June 1981: 113, 116, 120). This interview was illustrated by three photographs of Brautigan by Roger Ressmeyer, taken Saturday, 21 March 1981, in San Francisco, California. Brautigan is credited as the author of this article, but it actually stems from recorded interviews with McCall. The interview was reprinted in Lawrence Wright's memoir, "The Life and Death of Richard Brautigan," published Saturday, 11 April 1985, in Rolling Stone magazine.
The third photograph shows Brautigan seated on railroad tracks, near a San Francisco, California, dock.
Eunice Kitagawa visited Brautigan at his house in Pine Creek, Montana. She told Brautigan that she was moving to Hawaii.
Sunday, 30 August 1981
Although invited, Brautigan did not participate in Poets and Other Strangers—Readings by Poets at Chico Hot Springs Hotel, Chico Hot Springs, Montana. He had agreed to participate but was angered when the event organizers printed his name on promotional posters and distributed them without his permission. As a result, Brautigan did not join the other poets for this reading (William Hjortsberg 700).
Saturday, 5 September 1981
Daughter, Ianthe, married Paul Swensen, a film director, in Santa Rosa, California. Brautigan did not approve of the marriage, and did not attend the ceremony. Brautigan wrote a single paragraph short story about his feelings
She is my only daughter, and the end of my family name. [. . .] My name became the shadow of an old deer bone among the green grass that doesn't know its name.
The story, entitled "My Name Forgotten in the Grass," was never published.
Brautigan traveled by car with Robert Creeley, his wife Penelope, and their young son, Will, to Toronto, Canada.
Tuesday, 20 October 1981
Brautigan left Toronto, Canada, bound for San Francisco, California, where he checked into the Kyoto Inn in the downtown Japanese district (An Unfortunate Woman 2, 38-42).
Brautigan moved to a house in Berkeley, California, located at 17 Eucalyptus Road (An Unfortunate Woman 2). A lawyer owned the house. His wife committed suicide there the previous year and he refused to live in the house. Tony Dingman arranged to live in the house rent free. He invited Brautigan to join him. Richard Hodge, Brautigan's lawyer joined them as well.
Saturday, 5 December 1981
Brautigan traveled to Ketchikan, Alaska, at the invitation of the Ketchikan Humanities Society to give two readings, both billed as "An Evening's Discussion with Richard Brautigan," both held at the Ketchikan High School. The first presentation was held at 7:30 PM, this night.
Sunday, 6 December 1981
Brautigan delivered his second reading for the Ketchikan Humanities Society at 7:30 PM. After the reading, Brautigan spend the night drinking with Terry Gardiner, the "wild legislator."
Monday, 7 December 1981
Brautigan gave an interview to Bill Green of the Ketchikan Daily News. Later in the day, Brautigan left for Anchorage, Alaska, where he spent the night.
Tuesday, 8 December 1981
Brautigan traveled from Anchorage, Alaska, to Honolulu, Hawaii (An Unfortunate Woman 2, 12, 46-47, 47-50). While in Hawaii, Brautigan visited with Eunice Kitagawa, who had moved there from San Francisco in late August. Brautigan remained in Hawaii until mid-January 1982.
Highlights: So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away published . . . Wrote An Unfortunate Woman
Brautigan in Honolulu, Hawaii, visited with Eunice Kitagawa, who took him to Maui for two days. During the trip to Maui, Brautigan visited a Japanese cemetery (An Unfortunate Woman 33-38).
Kitagawa gave Brautigan a T-shirt with an image of a chicken atop a military tank and the words "Fighting Chickens" printed below. Brautigan wanted his picture taken with a fighting chicken and Kitagawa arranged for George Bennet to be the photographer. Brautigan recounts the experience with the chicken in his novel An Unfortunate Woman (8-11).
Brautigan returned to Berkeley, California, and his temporary residence at 17 Eucalyptus Road mid-January. The house was supposedly haunted by the ghost of the woman who hanged herself in the living room. Brautigan was intrigued and wanted to write about his thoughts.
Saturday, 30 January 1982
On his birthday, Brautigan traveled across the bay to San Francisco. He was forty-seven years old. The bus on which Brautigan traveled passed a building fire in San Francisco. Brautigan got off the bus and watched the fire (An Unfortunate Woman 4, 15-20). Brautigan paid for a room in the Kyoto Inn, in the downtown Japanese district and spent the next week writing his thoughts and observations from Hawaii and the haunted house in Berkeley.
Saturday, 6 February 1982
Brautigan returned to the house at 17 Eucalyptus Road in Berkeley, where he worked on the manuscript for An Unfortunate Woman. He planned a trip to Chicago, Illinois, his return to San Francisco, a trip to Denver and Boulder, Colorado, and then to Montana for the spring (An Unfortunate Woman 11, 51).
Thursday, 18 February 1982
Brautigan flew to Chicago, Illinois, where he was met by Dennis Lynch and driven to DeKalb, Illinois, about 50 miles to the west. Lynch and Brautigan met in 1979, when Brautigan participated in a panel discussion entitled "Zen and Contemporary Poetry" at the 94th annual meeting of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA), 29 December, in San Francisco, California. Lynch organized and chaired the panel. Lynch was an instructor in the English Department at Northern Illinois University and had arranged for Brautigan to visit, teach his class, and give a public reading. Brautigan stayed with Lynch, at his one-bedroom apartment on campus for ten days. Brautigan describes the trip in his novel An Unfortunate Woman (59-64).
Friday, 19 February 1982
Brautigan taught Lynch's class in the afternoon, then attended an autograph party. In the evening, Brautigan gave a formal reading in English Department at Northern Illinois University. Afterward, Brautigan attended a reception at the house of James M. Mellard, then chair of the NIU English Department and author of The Exploded Form: The Modernist Novel in America which includes a chapter on Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America.
Feedback from Dennis Lynch
I put that MLA panel together, and that's what led to Brautigan and I being friends. That was quite a night. Governor Jerry Brown and his then-squeeze Linda Ronstadt showed up.
Then a couple of years later, Richard came out to NIU [Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois] where I was a graduate student and delivered a reading and lecture, and came to my classes. There we had the surreal experience of going out to dinner and finding on the printed menu Trout á la Brautigan, believe it or not.
After the MLA deal we kept in touch regularly. He'd drink and dial me maybe once a month after that until his death. I wrote a tribute to him for the Chicago Tribune, and wrote various other things about him, all of which you seem to have uncovered.
I spent a week at his ranch in Montana where he showed me how to shoot his guns.
Unless I'm working on a story, my MO around celeberities is never to ask them questions about their work (I figure they get that enough elsewhere) but just to talk about "normal" things. So instead of prying, I'd wait for Richard to talk about his art (which was rarely), his publishing and financial problems (frequently), or his personal life (often). So, unfortunately, I didn't hear from him a lot of insights into his craft.
Dennis Lynch. Email to John F. Barber, 26 February 2005.
Feedback from James Mellard
I am not sure whether it was Dennis Lynch or Jerome Klinkowitz who invited Brautigan.
My wife Sue and I hosted the reception after Brautigan's reading, and a bunch of people, indeed, a coterie of Brautigan followers actually hung out and stayed at our house after the Sue and I went to bed. They drank up all the beer and wine, then proceeded on to our modest supply of liquor (scotch, bourbon, that sort of thing, not a huge amount), leaving not a drop undrunk.
Brautigan wasn't falling down drunk, but he was regaling the crowd in a flourishing manner. I remember one scene of Brautigan standing in the living room talking about his critics. Brautigan said that he would like to line up all his critics and shoot them. As he said this, he made the gesture of raising a gun and shooting each one, complete with sound effects. I also remember Brautigan sitting on the floor in the living room telling stories.
When Sue and I needed to sleep, I said to the group "Y'all stay here; we're going to bed."
James Mellard. Email to John F. Barber, 24 January 2007.
Saturday, 27 February 1982
Brautigan returned to San Francisco, California, from Chicago, Illinois, and took up residence at the Kyoto Inn in the downtown Japanese district.
Monday and Tuesday, 1-2 March 1982
Brautigan added comments about his trip to DeKalb, Illinois, to his evolving manuscript. He left out names, was creative with the time frame, and followed an arbitrary rule of not reading what he had already written, but rather continuing his efforts to account for his travels, thoughts, and observations over the past months.
Thursday, 4 March 1982
Brautigan posed for photographs taken by Roger Ressmeyer that were to be used for the promotional and marketing efforts associated with Brautigan's most recent novel, So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away. Ressmeyer took several head-and-shoulders portraits of Brautigan. The first photograph in the series below was used on the back flyleaf of Brautigan's novel. Additionally, Ressmeyer took the photograph used on the front and back covers of the novel at the Novato reservoir in northern Marin County.
Brautigan broke his right leg at the ankle in two places when he tripped over a piece of furniture in his room at the Kyoto Inn (An Unfortunate Woman 59, 65, 74). The breaks were clean, so no cast was required. Brautigan was given a cane to assist him in walking.
Greg Keeler, Professor of English at Montana State (seen at left in photograph by Linda Best), was instrumental in arranging for Brautigan to teach this course. This was one of Brautigan's several teaching or conference experiences.
Keeler maintains a website called "Troutball" that features his "songs, poetry, stories, and cheap coyote tricks." Hidden in this website, like a hunchback trout in a wagon wheel hole, are a series of stories and poems about Brautigan, as well as quotes by Brautigan and letters he wrote to Keeler.
On weekends while teaching at Montana State University in Bozeman, and full time after the spring term was finished in mid-June, Brautigan stayed at his Pine Creek ranch. Here he started a new writing project, entitled "American Hotels" even while he continued work on the project begun on his birthday and now titled "Investigating Moods."
Late in the month, Brautigan sent a proposal for a book to Dell Publishing Company and his literary agent, Helen Brann. The proposed book would consist of four sections. The first, the unfinished project started on his birthday in January, would examine varieties of human existence revolving around tragedy. It would be called, at the advice of Becky Fonda, "An Unfortunate Woman." The second, "Japanese UFO," would contain stories about contemporary Japan. The third would be "American Hotels." The fourth would be a collection of stories set in Montana, none of which were yet written. Working title for this final section would be "Waiting for Deer."
Monday, 28 June 1982
Brautigan finished the manuscript for what would become An Unfortunate Woman. The manuscript was written in a 160-page lined notebook. In addition to not rereading what he had written, except to see where he had left off during lapses in writing, Brautigan, for this project, decided that when he reached the final page of the notebook, the novel would be finished. This was a big departure from Brautigan's normal writing style of laboring over each word, aiming for precision. Interesting, Brautigan noted the final day of writing as June 18, 1982, ten days prior to the actual date of completion (An Unfortunate Woman 110). Brautigan had his handwritten manuscript typed and mailed to his literary agent, Helen Brann (William Hjortsberg 720).
Sunday, 4 July 1982
Finished with his newest novel, Brautigan turned his attention to summer celebration. Visitors obliged over the Fourth of July weekend. Dennis Lynch and a friend, Brad Donovan and his wife, Georgia, and Rip Torn and his three children, Ed and Jennifer Dorn and their two children, Dick Dillof, Bud Swearingen, and others gathered at Brautigan's Pine Creek ranch. Brautigan decided to throw a dinner party for Rip Torn and asked Brad Donovan for help with the grocery shopping and cooking. Donovan and Georgia used their food stamps to buy Brautigan's grocery list. Donovan helped in the kitchen and partook of the party swirling around him. His memoir, "Food Stamps for the Stars" (Firestarter June 1996: 4-5) is an interesting account of one of Brautigan's legendary parties.
Thursday, 8 July 1982
Brautigan's friend, Nikki Arai, died of cancer in San Francisco, California. Brautigan learned of her death two days later. Five days after her death, Brautigan wrote a letter to Arai, calling her "N." He described walking to his neighbor Marian Hjortsberg, "M," house with a watermelon. When he discovered that he had interrupted her lovemaking with her boyfriend, Todd, he left the watermelon on the porch and walked back to his own house. He wanted to phone Nikki, he wrote, "because you have the perfect sense of humor to understand. Its' just the kind of story you would have enjoyed." Brautigan later used this letter as the introduction to An Unfortunate Woman.
Friday, 16(?) July 1982
Not wanting to remain alone at his Pine Creek ranch, Brautigan moved into Georgia Donovan's sister's vacant trailer at the Forest Park trailer park, along the banks of the Gallatin River, west of Bozeman, Montana. Here he had the chance to visit at leisure with Brad Donovan. They decided to write a screenplay about live in a trailer park. The result was Trailer, a rough, 100-page first draft.
(L-R) Jennifer Dunbar Dorn, Brad Donovan, Edward Dorn, and Brautigan. The Dorn's son, Kidd, is center front. Their daughter, Maya, is center middle. This photograph, by Georgia Donovan, July 1982, documents a fishing trip at the Forest Park trailer park, on the banks of the Gallatin River, west of Bozeman, Montana.
Jennifer Dorn described the fishing trip in her memoir of Brautigan, "The Perfect American" (The Denver Post Empire Magazine May 19, 1985: 23, 31).
While in Montana, Brautigan was visited by David Curran, a fan from Missoula, Montana. Using clues from Brautigan's books, Curran located the Pine Creek ranch and introduced himself. Curran recorded his visit with Brautigan in a book titled Brautigan, Richard: A Pilgrimage, August 1982. This photograph by Curran shows Brautigan sitting on the steps of his barn.
I take two photos of Richard sitting on his barn steps. I'm annoyed by the face-in-the-hands pose he insists on (Curran 33)
Seymour Lawrence, on behalf of Dell Publishing Company, offered Brautigan a $15,000 advance for his new book proposal. This was less than half of what Brautigan had received for his past novels, and he rejected the offer. Lawrence was also forming his own publishing company with E.P. Dutton & Company, and he offered Brautigan the same advance. Brautigan refused this offer as well.
Brautigan participated in the annual Poets and Other Strangers—Readings by Poets at Chico Hot Springs Hotel, Chico Hot Springs, Montana.
Friday, 10 September 1982
So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away published. 17,500 copies were printed. The novel sold less than 15,000 copies, and, like all of Brautigan's later work, received mixed reviews from critics. This was Brautigan's last publication in his lifetime.
Friday, 24 September 1982
Brautigan traveled to San Francisco to visit with his attorney, Joel A. Shawn. Brautigan needed money to repair and update his Bolinas, California, home, and wanted to talk about options.
Brautigan returned to Bozeman, Montana, and took a room at the Baxter Hotel, on Main Street. He started work again on "American Hotels" writing about his travel and hotel experiences beginning in the 1950s. He filled nearly fifty pages in his notebook, sympathizing with the disappearance of the hotel as a living space. At the end of the month Brautigan stopped writing. "American Hotels" remains unpublished.
Brautigan spent much of the fall in Bozeman, at the Imperial 400 Motel, on Main Street, room 214, or at the home of Karen Datko, a reporter for the Bozeman Chronicle.
Highlights: Visits Paris to promote French publication of his work . . . Visits Japan (his sixth trip) . . . Closes up Montana house, never to return . . . Travels in Europe
After spending the holidays at this Pine Creek, Montana, ranch, Brautigan flew to San Francisco, California, where he booked a room at the Kyoto Inn, in the downtown Japanese district.
Wednesday, 19 January 1983
Brautigan applied for and received a ninety-day visa to visit Japan before being driven to Palo Alto, California, where he delivered an 8:00 PM reading at Stanford University.
Friday, 21 January 1983
Brautigan left San Francisco, bound for Tokyo, Japan, his fifth visit. Following old habits, he checked into the Keio Plaza Hotel. Brautigan planned to stay in Tokyo less than four week. The purpose of his visit was his desire to see Masako Kano again (William Hjortsberg 736).
Brautigan returned to San Francisco, California, from Tokyo, Japan.
Wednesday, 23 January 1983
Brautigan flew from San Francisco to South Bend, Indiana, to deliver a 7:00 PM reading at Notre Dame University.
Thursday, 24 January 1983
Brautigan flew from South Bend, Indiana, to Bozeman, Montana, and returned to his Pine Creek ranch where he remained until April.
Friday, 11 March 1983
Brautigan sent a letter to Helen Brann, his literary agent, ending their thirteen-year business relationship.
Dear Helen Brann,
After our last conversation about my new novel An Unfortunate Woman, I realized that our views on this work are so vastly different that it would be very difficult to continue our working relationship because this novel is one of the main directions of my future writing.
So I am terminating my relationship with the Helen Brann Agency effective as of March 11, 1983.
Brautigan and Brann spoke by telephone earlier in the month. Brann told Brautigan she could not find a publisher for An Unfortunate Woman because it was more autobiographical than fictional, and seemingly focused on Brautigan's bad marriage experience with Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa). Brautigan may have felt Brann was disloyal and, as he had done with others, cut off all further relations (William Hjortsberg 738).
Richard Brautigan by Marc Chénetier (London: Methuen 1983) published. Chénetier praised Brautigan and his writing, saying that critics did not undertand his work as it fell outside the boundaries of traditional American literature. Brautigan was pleased.
Thursday, 7 April 1983
Brautigan left Pine Creek, Montana, and traveled to San Francisco, California.
Friday, 8 April 1983
Brautigan flew from San Francisco to New York, New York, the first leg of his trip to Paris, France. The trip was paid for by Christian Bourgois, the French publishing company that released Brautigan's So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away translated into French by Marc Chénetier. Brautigan was to help promote the release of the book while in Paris through a series of interviews and an appearance at the Paris Book Fair.
Brautigan spent the night in New York and visited with his daughter, Ianthe.
Saturday, 9 April 1983
Brautigan had breakfast with Helen Brann, his former literary agent. He told her that if he published anything in the future, it would be in Europe where, based on recent critical and publishing success, he saw an opportunity to regain his stature as a writer. He left for Paris in the evening.
Sunday, 10 April 1983
Brautigan arrived in Paris, France, where he was met by Christian Bourgois and his wife, Dominique, Marc Chénetier, and a reporter from L'Express. After lunch, they took Brautigan to Hôtel d'Isly, 49 Rue Jacob, in the Saint-Germian-des-Pré on the Left Bank, within walking distance of le Jardin du Luxembourg, the second largest park in Paris.
Monday, 11 April 1983
Brautigan was interviewed by Jean Baptiste Baronian, on assignment for Le Magazine Littéraire. At 5:00 PM he was interviewed by Gabrielle Rollin. In the evening, he visited with Marc Chénetier.
Wednesday, 13 April 1983
Brautigan met with novelist and literary critic Michel Brauden, F. Dumont, a reporter for Elle magazine, and Jean-François Fogel, a journalist with Le Point, who took Brautigan on a tour of Père-Lachaise, the largest cemetery in Paris.
Friday, 15 April 1983
Brautigan participated in an interview with a French television crew in his hotel room. At 7:00 PM, he gave a reading at Maison des Sciences de l'Homme on the Boulevard Raspail.
Saturday, 16 April 1983
Brautigan appeared at the Christian Bourgoise Publishing booth in the Grand Palais de Champs-Elysées to help promote publication of his novel So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away in French translation. Brautigan, drunk since his arrival in Paris on Sunday, did not make a good impression, as shown in photographs taken by Louis Monier that appeared in Le Point and Magazine Littéraire (William Hjortsberg 747).
Sunday, 17 April 1983
Brautigan left Paris, France, bound for Tokyo, Japan, with stops in Frankfurt, Germany, Cairo, Egypt, and Aden, Yemen. This was Brautigan's sixth trip to Japan. As before, he checked into the Keio Plaza Hotel. His room on the thirty-seventh floor became his base of operations for next four months. Once settled, he resumed contact with Masako Kano, whom he convinced to help with an assignment from the West German version of Playboy magazine to write an article about West German fashion models working in Tokyo Japan. Kano would be his research assistant, able to learn information about the models and their work that would be unavailable to Brautigan.
Jim DeBerry tells of meeting Brautigan at the Keio Plaza Hotel.
I first met Richard [Brautigan] in Tokyo. I had just taken a job for an American computer company that had a branch office in Japan and was staying at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku which was right across the street from the building where my company was located. After work there was a place called the Little Bar near the lobby of the hotel and just outside the main bar. I had made a lot of Japanese friends there who came after work for a few drinks. The Little Bar was open from 5 to 9 I believe.
One day a rather tall stranger stopped by and ordered a beer. He was dressed just about like you see him in the pictures blue jeans and western shirt but no big hat. He stood next to me and we started talking. I introduced myself and he introduced himself and asked what I was doing in Tokyo. The name Richard Brautigan meant absolutely nothing to me as I had never heard of him. I asked him what he was doing there and he said "I am just a fifty year old hippy who has never outgrown it. He said he was a writer and named a couple of books that I had never heard of probably Trout Fishing [in America] and [In] Watermelon [Sugar].
We often stopped by that Little Bar and just talked about nothing in particular. If anyone is ever in Tokyo and goes to the Keio Plaza he always stood in the same place about four feet over from the left side facing the bar. Maybe he left some " Karma" there or something. We often did the Sunday New York Times crosswords there on Friday nights as that is when they were published in Tokyo. As a rule he finished first but not always. After the Little Bar closed I usually went to my room and he went over to Shibuya where a lady friend of his ran a bar.
I felt that he was a fine person who cared for people. He once told me that I was the only American in Japan that he had anything to do with. He went into a small spiel about the Americans that were there that had nothing to do with the Japanese. He called them the Ropongi Crowd, I think. And he had little use for them. He felt that when one was in a foreign country that one should partake of that culture.
For those of you who don't know Tokyo, Ropongi is the location of the American Embassy and most of the Americans hung out in mostly American clubs having almost nothing to do with the locals. These were the Americans that he had little use for. I suppose because I had a lot of Japanese friends, he saw me differently.
He told me he usually came to Japan in the spring and went back to the states in the fall. I told him that it seemed backwards to me because Japan had such a mild winter and Montana was so cold. He said, "Well, I come to Japan to get ideas for my writing and since I am lazy I go back to Montana to write because I am snowed in up there and am forced to write because there is nothing else to do."
This is getting longer than I expected. To make a long story short I came back to America in the spring of 1984 and ran across some of his books at a book store and bought them and enjoyed them very much. I think maybe if I had known of his books earlier then perhaps I might have been awed or something and our relationship would have been different. As it was we were just two Americans in Tokyo having a good time together.
And before anyone asks I might add that I saw no signs of despondency or anything that would suggest his suicide in 1984. I guess the last time I saw him was in the late summer of 1983.
Jim DeBerry. Email to John F. Barber, 2004.
Wednesday, 4 May 1983
Terayama Shuji , Japanese avant-garde writer, poet, filmmaker and dramatist, died in Tokyo. Brautigan first meet Shuji in San Francisco in 1979 and they became friends. Shuji's funeral was held close to the Keio Plaza Hotel. Brautigan walked to the funeral hall and joined the line of people waiting to show their respect to Shuji. While waiting, Brautigan observed an ant crawling under the black shoe of a man ahead of him in the line. Thus began the poem "Night Flowing River."
Brautigan typed the poem on Keio Plaza Hotel stationary. He gave a copy to his literary representatives in Japan, and another copy to Shuntarõ Tanikawa to translate into Japanese. The Japanese translation was later published in Asahi Shinbun (Evening Edition 6 June 1983: 5).
end of May 1983
Brautigan was invited by the United States Information Agency at the U. S. Embassy to conduct presentations at cities across Japan. For each presentation, Brautigan would be paid a $75.00 honorarium plus a $113.00 per diem. Brautigan accepted the invitation, and planned a presentation in Kyoto on 20 June and one in Osaka on 21 June.
Brautigan continued working on "The Fate of a West German Model in Tokyo," now the working title of his assignment for the West German version of Playboy magazine. His notes filled two notebooks, a 179-page manuscript. Brautigan met and talked with only one West German model, and it was notes from this conversation that formed the final, six-page essay. Never published in English, this story was framed, like "The World War I Los Angeles Airplane," as a numbered list of quotes in the voice of the West German model.
Wednesday, 8 June 1983
Brautigan had lunch with Donald Ritchie, American author who wrote about Japanese people and cinema, who recorded these impressions in his journal.
Denim and corduroy, granny glasses, wispy red hair, uneven red moustache. Bright blue eyes, the moustache concealing an affable mouth. The aging hippy persona is there but is mostly due to the clothes: the studied appearance of the unlearned, does not know foreign languages, careful mispronunciations. Part of it is a pose, I think: the American anti-intellectual, Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad. But not all.
He talks about himself . . .. He is not precisely attempting to justify himself, but is giving me a lot of information. Among the things spoken of is how different the public personal, created by "the media," is from the real self.
[W]e speak of the ways in which the persona may be used. It is of use in getting people to go to bed with you. In fact, fame-fucking is a known result.
He has had much experience. Further, he prefers his partners young. His persona is very reassuring. He is filled with earth-wisdom and, as one fo the original hippies, is by definition kind and understanding, things that female children, males as well, find attractive. He is at present with a young girl [Masako Kano], "young enough to be my daughter."
. . . I find his air of the faux-naïf very refreshing but I still do not know how faux it is. Perhaps it isn't. What he finds in me I don't know—we speak little about me.
(Donald Ritchie. The Japan Journals. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 2004. 193, 195-196).
Monday, 20 June 1983
Brautigan gave a reading at Doshita University in Kyoto, Japan, as part of a speaking tour arranged by the United States Information Agency in the U. S. Embassy. The event was called "A Conversation with Richard Brautigan" and consisted of him reading his past work and then answering questions from the audience (William Hjortsberg 758).
Tuesday, 22 June 1983
Brautigan gave a reading in Osaka, Japan, as part of a speaking tour arranged by the United States Information Agency in the U. S. Embassy. The event was called "A Conversation with Richard Brautigan" and consisted of him reading his past work and then answering questions from the audience. At mid-month, Brautigan gave a reading ("Literature as a Living Process") at the Tokyo American Center (William Hjortsberg 758, 759).
Brautigan wrote a poem entitled "Spare Me" about his disappointment with love after ending his relationship with Kano. It remains unpublished.
Brautigan returned from Tokyo, Japan, to San Francisco, California.
Brautigan traveled from San Francisco to Pine Creek, Montana, early in the month. At month's end, Brautigan moved to the Murray Hotel, in Livingston, Montana, where he rented room 211 for $10.00 a month William Hjortsberg 766).
Brautigan and Brad Donovan completed a working draft of their screenplay, Trailer.
Sean Cassaday, and Toby Thompson helped Brautigan pack up the contents of his Pine Creek, Montana, ranch house. Brautigan was intent to leave the place forever. In the packing he gave a copy of the poem Night Flowing River and a story, "The Lost Tree," to Thompson who said he might be able to place them with the Washington Review of the Arts in Washington, D.C. (William Hjortsberg 775).
The poem, "Night Flowing River," concerns Brautigan's attendance of funeral ceremonies for Terayama Shuji, in May 1983, in Tokyo, Japan. The story, "The Lost Tree" is about a tree in Boulder, Colorado, under which he had frequent sex with Masako Kano in July 1980.
Both the poem and the story, as well as a photograph of Brautigan by Thompson, were published under the title "Richard Brautigan: Tokyo and Montana" in the February/March 1984 issue o Friends of the Washington Review of the Arts (9(5) February/March 1984: 9).
Brautigan left Montana, bound for New York City. He never returned to Montana.
During a brief stay in New York, Brautigan visited with his daughter, Ianthe, and long-time friend, Tony Dingman.
Brautigan attended and gave a reading at the One World Poetry Festival in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. While there, he stayed at the Hotel Jan Luyken. Readings for the conference were held at the Melkweg (Milky Way) club, not far from the hotel. According to Bert Van De Kamp, writing in the November 1983 issue of muziekkrant OOR, a Dutch music magazine,
Richard Brautigan read a poem concerning the burial of his friend, a Japanese artist, and afterwards couldn’t say another word. "That was the end of the sixties," concluded Bram Vermeulen [a Dutch musician who performed that same evening] slightly disrespectfully. Perhaps Brautigan wanted to keep the memory of his friend pure [and so did not wish to say anything further]. The performance was, however brief, nevertheless very memorable ("One World Poetry." muziekkrant OOR Number 23, 19 November 1983: 19).
Jan Kerouac, daughter of beat novelist Jack Kerouac, also attended the One World Poetry Festival, and met Brautigan there. He was, she said, "hangdog and terminally sad" as he told a story about an ant and then stopped without warning.
[The crowd was] outraged and wanted to see and hear more. Brautigan meekly apologized. He shrugged his narrow shoulders and said he didn't have any more. Then, as an afterthought it seemed, he explained that the Japanese man whose funeral the ant was walking through would have been insulted if he had read any more, that the Japanese like things simple—short and sweet, like haiku. Then he left. (Trainsong. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1988. 154-157)
READ excerpts from Kerouac's discussion of Brautigan.
The story/poem Brautigan shared was "Night Flowing River," written about attending the funeral of Japanese poet Terayama Shuji who died 4 May 1983.
Wednesday, 26 October 1983
Brautigan began a spontaneous tour of Europe. His first stop was Spain, where he traveled with a woman he met at the One World Poetry Conference. She lived in Palma, Majorca, and Brautigan stayed with her through the end of the month and into November.
Saturday, 19 November 1983
Brautigan left Palma, Majorca, Spain, and returned to Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
At the end of the month, Brautigan flew back to Palma, Majorca, Spain, where he remained for a few days.
Monday, 5 December 1983
Brautigan left Palma, Majorca, Spain, and traveled to Frankfurt, Germany, where he began a lecture tour arranged by the United States Information Service. He was met at the airport by Günter Ohnemus, who had translated Brautigan's works into German, and Edwin Pancoast, director of the America House. They drove Brautigan to the American Institute at the University of Munich for his first lecture that evening.
Tuesday, 6 December 1983
Brautigan traveled by train to Heidelberg, Germany, where he gave a 2:30 PM lecture at the English Department of the University of Mannheim.
Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Brautigan traveled by train to back to Frankfurt, Germany, where he made a connection to Siegen. He was met there and driven to the University of Siegen where he gave a noon lecture at the Department of English. After his lecture, Brautigan was driven to Bonn, Germany, where he attended an informal reception at the American Center.
Thursday, 8 December 1983
Brautigan gave an 11:00 AM lecture at the English Department at Bonn University. After the lecture, Brautigan flew to Berlin, Germany, where, that evening at 8:00 PM, he gave a lecture at The Amerika Haus. This was the end of Brautigan's German tour as arranged by the United States Information Service. Brautigan remained in Berlin for three days. He later told friends that he visited a former German concentration camp during his tour and suggested that his work in progress, The Complete Absence of Twilight was based on that visit.
Friday, 9 December 1983
Brautigan visited East Berlin, Germany, then under Communist control.
Saturday, 10 December 1983
Brautigan attended a 5:00 PM book signing at The Author's Bookstore, in West Berlin. He met with the editors of Transatlantik and sold them the first German serial rights to his six-page story, "The Fate of a West German Model in Tokyo" (William Hjortsberg 784).
Sunday, 11 December 1983
Brautigan flew from Berlin, Germany, back to Palma, Majorca, Spain, where he spent the rest of the month.
Highlights: Continues travels in Europe . . . Takes own life in Bolinas, California
Sunday, 1 January 1984
Brautigan flew from Palma, Majorca, to Barcelona, Spain, where he caught a train to Paris, France, and then another train to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where he stayed for more than five weeks at the Owl Hotel. While in Amsterdam, Brautigan began writing a long narrative prose piece titled "Owl Days" about his trip from Barcelona to Amsterdam and experiences there. For example, the story "Mussels" focus on shop near the hotel that served mussel sandwiches. Brautigan thought it a good reason to return to Amsterdam. In another notebook, Brautigan listed every item in the hotel. Both works remain unpublished (William Hjortsberg 787).
Brautigan also began a story titled The Complete Absence of Twilight, but wrote only eleven pages. The work was never finished and remains unpublished.
Monday, 9 January 1984
Brautigan applied for a visa to visit Japan. At the end of his application, Brautigan wrote
At the age of seventeen, I came in contact with Japanese culture and it has had a profound influence on my life. Japan has been my teacher. I wish to continue my education.
Brautigan was granted a six-month visa "for cultural activities" (William Hjortsberg 787-788)
Monday, 30 January 1984
On his forty-ninth birthday, Brautigan visited with the editor of the Dutch version of Playboy magazine. He offered them four pieces of new fiction: "Umbrellas in the Snow,""Mussels,""Sandwalker," and "The Habitue." These works remain unpublished. After the meeting, Brautigan mailed the editor a copy of "The Fate of a West German Model in Tokyo." Brautigan also gave the six-page story to Avenue magazine, one of the biggest publications in The Netherlands. The magazine agreed to publish the story later in the year (William Hjortsberg 790).
Brautigan's poem "Night Flowing River" and his story "The Lost Tree" were published in Friends of the Washington Review of the Arts 9(5) February/March 1984: 9. This was a republication of "Night Flowing River" and a first publication for "The Lost Tree." Both were the last works of Brautigan published in English during his lifetime.
Wednesday, 8 February 1984
Brautigan left Amsterdam and traveled to Tokyo, Japan, his seventh visit to the country. As before, he checked into the Keio Plaza Hotel. Unable to pay his hotel bill, Brautigan asked Takako Shiina, owner of The Cradle bar for help. She agreed to cover his expenses.
Brautigan began "The Same Story Twice," intended as a sequel to Dreaming of Babylon told by C. Card's son, but after five pages abandoned the effort. This work remains unpublished.
Brautigan also tried to continue work on a screenplay begun at the Owl Hotel in Amsterdam, Wear Out and Die, but abandoned the effort after four pages, He began a new screenplay, titled Clichè, envisioning a movie about 1950s mediocrity. The Killer was to be about Barbara Frederick, a woman pushing a shopping cart wondering if she could kill the Chinese woman in the next aisle. (William Hjortsberg 791792). None of these efforts were ever finished and all remain unpublished.
Brautigan also contacted the United States Information Service at the U. S. Embassy, hoping to set up a paid speaking tour. Nagoya and Fukuoka expressed interest in having Brautigan speak at their American Cultural Centers, but plans were never finalized.
Brautigan visited with Masako Kano, but their relationship was over.
In a letter from Tokyo dated Tuesday, 14 February 1984 to Greg Keeler, Brautigan included a copy of his Japanese visa photograph (taken in January 1984). The text at the bottom of the photograph reads, "As you can see, Europe has been good to me." Brautigan's letter carried a similar message: "You have probably looked at the photograph of me taken just before my birthday. Yes, Europe has been good to me." This letter was one of several Brautigan exchanged with Keeler.
Sunday, 11 March 1984
Brautigan departed Tokyo, Japan, bound for San Francisco, California, where he checked into the Kyoto Inn, in the downtown Japanese district. Soon after he returned, Brautigan borrowed a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum from Jim Sakata, owner of Cho-Cho Tempura Bar, 1020 Kearny Street, a popular San Francisco Japanese restaurant. Brautigan claimed to be uneasy about moving into his empty house in Bolinas. In return, Brautigan gave Sakata a brick which he placed on the bar, in the corner where Brautigan always sat. The brick became a private memorial after Brautigan's death (William Hjortsberg 796).
Brautigan, in a letter to his new literary agent, Jonathan Dolger, once assistant to Helen Brann, expressed concern over the eleven pages of The Complete Absence of Twilight, he had mailed to Dolger earlier. The arrangement was wrong, claimed Brautigan, and he was working to fix the problem. In fact, Brautigan never wrote more than the initial eleven pages of this story he began in Amsterdam (William Hjortsberg 793).
Brautigan wrote seven new poems and started two new stories, "Added Days" and "The Ad." Neither were ever finished and remain unpublished.
Brautigan collaborated with Richard Breen to write ten pages of an informal script and an eight-page outline of a screenplay for Brautigan's A Confederate General from Big Sur. The project was never completed.
Greg Keeler, his wife Judy, and their two sons arrived in Berkeley, California, to visit Greg's brother. Brautigan convinced them to drive to Bolinas for a day visit.
Brautigan wrote a seven page poem titled "The Full-Moon LA Olympics" after watching the opening ceremonies on television in his Bolinas home. The poem was never published.
Brautigan closed his office above Vesuvio's Café and cleaned out his storage unit at the Army Street Mini-Storage. The items from both were taken Mike York to Nucla, Colorado, where they remained until 1996 when they were discovered and purchased by Ted Latty, a Brautigan collector (William Hjortsberg 802-803).
At the end of the month, Brautigan installed a telephone in his Bolinas home. Thinking that he might find success writing screenplays, Brautigan felt he needed to be more reachable. Brautigan called William "Gatz" Hjortsberg and asked him to collaborate on a screenplay about a woman serial killer. It was a mashup of Clichè and The Killer. Gatz suggested a new title: Skeletons in the Closet. The project never advanced beyond this initial conversation (William Hjortsberg 804, 805).
Brautigan also worked on a long prose piece about artist and writer Russell Chatham, a work that was never completed and remains unpublished. Seeking all sources of income, Brautigan wrote Paul Ferlazzo, head of the English Department at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, asking for a job teaching "fifteen students each term in writing prose" (William Hjortsberg 807).
Brautigan gave Robert Junsch and his wife Shallen, who lived in nearby Stinson Beach, California, a number of signed books. In a copy of The Galilee Hitch-Hiker Brautigan wrote
This copy just is
wishing and concerned one more week. Let's see what happens. Why
not? (happiness + happiness)
Friday, 14 September 1984
Brautigan was driven to San Francisco by Robert and Shallen Junsch. Brautigan went to Enrico's for several drinks. Brautigan invited a woman he met at Enrico's to get something to eat next door at Vanessi's Restaurant. Pausing inside the restaurant, Brautigan looked back through the glass doors and saw his former wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura. They had divorced four years earlier. Living in Los Angeles, she was in San Francisco with a photographer, on assignment when she accidentaly saw Brautigan walking into the restaurant and followed him. Brautigan seemed shocked to see her, turned away, and walked into the restaurant.
After eating, Brautigan returned to Enrico's where he met Marcia Clay, a former girlfriend with whom he had broken off from also four years earlier when she sided with Akiko in the divorce. Brautigan and Clay talked and Brautigan told her The Total Absence of Twilight, calling it his current novel.
When Clay left, after promising to call, Brautigan went to Cho-Cho Tempura Bar where he had several more drinks. Leaving Cho-Cho, Brautigan went to Gino & Carlo's, and then perhaps other bars, ending up at the Washbag. Kevin Clancy drove Brautigan from North Beach to Bolinas. That night, Brautigan attempted suicide by taking handful of sleeping pills (William Hjortsberg 810).
Saturday, 15 September 1984
Brautigan visited with Andy Cole, telling him about meeting his former wife Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura. Later in the day he saw Margot Doss. At 11:00 PM, Marcia Clay telephoned Brautigan who said he wanted to read something to her but had to hang up the phone to find it. "Call me back in ten minutes," he said. When Clay called back Brautigan did not answer. She called repeatedly, each time getting only the answering machine (William Hjortsberg 811).
Sunday, 16 September 1984
Brautigan checked the timer that would turn his house lights on and off at set times. He telephoned long-time friend Don Carpenter, ending their short conversation saying, "I love you. Goodbye." He turned up the volume on the radio. Then, standing in front of the window, facing out toward the ocean, Brautigan put Sakata's gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He was 49.
As Marcia Clay and other concerned friends called over the next days the batteries in Brautigan's answering machine ran down. Brautigan's recorded voice took on a surreal quality (Lawrence Wright 59-60).
Thursday, 25 October 1984
Becky Fonda, wife of Peter Fonda, after not hearing from Brautigan for weeks, asked David Fechheimer, a private investigator in San Francisco, to check on Brautigan. Fechheimer allegedly called a friend in Bolinas, California. Robert Yench, of Bolinas, found Brautigan's badly-decomposed body in the second-story living room, near the walk-in fireplace, of Brautigan's home at 6 Terrrace Avenue. A .44 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun was found nearby with one fired bullet under the hammer. A gunshot wound to the head was the determined cause of death. Many eulogies were written about and for Richard Brautigan.
Brautigan's death also stirred up memories, and even some guilt, among his fans.
One of the first things my wife Susan and I found we had in common when we met in 1978 was our love of Brautigan's books. Long after we were married, in the summer of 1984, we were driving from Buena Vista to Fairplay, Colorado, when we crossed a pass called "Trout Creek Pass." I pulled over and got my fly rod out of the back of the car. My wife took a picture of me standing in front of the "Trout Creek Pass" sign. We agreed we would find some way of getting that picture to Brautigan. We got back into the car, and when I was pulling out we were almost crushed by a large truck that came flying out of nowhere, his horn blaring. I thought we were dead. A narrow escape—foreboding?
We read the "Milestone" entry about Brautigan’s suicide just a few weeks later in Newsweek, before we had a chance to send that picture. I couldn't believe it. I always wondered if delaying on getting that picture to his publisher was a mistake, that it could have somehow helped. Which is probably stupid, but from your website it sounds like that is what he needed most of all—to hear from his readers. I had just finished So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away.
Brad Harrison. Email to John F. Barber, 7 December 2007.
In the fall of 1984, Brad [Donovan] and I were in Livingston, Montana, waiting for Richard to come home from his trail around the world. He was over-due, and we were expecting him sometime, maybe soon, and then became concerned. We didn't anticipate what had happened. Yes, we knew from experience that he could get depressed, especially during the full moons of fall. He'd usually call. One year he called to tell me "a ghost story without a ghost."
Well . . . during the month after the September full moon, I got creeped out. It can be a spooky time of year. I'd never seen a ghost. My deeper thoughts are capped off by a fairly analytical nature, so maybe I was ruling out the "unreal." And yet, I developed a fear of looking at our windows at night, because I was absolutely afraid that I would see a dancing skeleton. That was the image that popped into my mind every time. A grinning, dancing skeleton...
Now, I guess I was an expert at denial. I did not associate this with Richard. And yet, I had some very good times with Richard during what I teasingly called his "old age" phase, when he had broken his leg and went about with a cane. He was almost dignified, even jolly, if I'm allowed to stretch it a bit. We had pleasant times during those days. Since I had to work late and missed the "Burger Special" at the Eagles Bar, Richard would always make sure the waitress saved me a burger-plate, with another paper plate over it, wrapped in tin-foil, like a steaming hamburger UFO . . . It was sweet.
And he would dance about with his cane. Think Grateful Dead style. He knew those guys in San Francisco. And now he was dead. Presumably gratefully, since it was his decision. After we found out, and I'll skip the part about the shock and mind-bending horror, the skeleton-reflection-images stopped. Just like that.
I think it was him, rippling through the ether-world with his odd-humored way of saying, yoo-hoo . . . could somebody please find me? Because it was taking awhile for somebody to find him. Because he chose to do this far from his friends in Montana, so that those dear ones would NOT see that. I shouldn't have been surprised, and yet I was, completely, because I was remembering all the ways that Richard would enjoy little bits of life, making the most out of what came along. Hindsight . . . years before, during financial difficulty, my sister, Mary, said to him, "Why don't you sell your house in Bolinas?" Richard answered, "Oh, I'm saving that for later, for the end part of my life." Being young and naturally optimistic, we figured that meant "retirement years." Of course, Richard thought differently.
After all these years of not thinking about it as much as possible, I can finally appreciate his little ghost story.
Georgia Donovan. Email to John F. Barber, 8 June 2011.
Ianthe Brautigan notes in her memoir, You Can't Catch Death,
I've bought a plot for my dad in a small cemetery near a seaside town on the rocky northern California coast. An elderly man, the volunteer caretaker, helped me with the purchase. There is a sheep pasture on one side of the cemetery and a grove of eucalyptus trees at the far end. The plot I purchased is at the top near the shade of several creaking trees. My dad spent so much time avoiding the sun I can't see putting him in direct afternoon rays with no respite. . . I know my father should have a marker and a place. But, placing a headstone would require knowing what I want carved in the stone. . . . I have decided on white marble, and I have decided that I don't take having the last word lightly. (You Can't Catch Death. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2001. 134-135)
Brautigan's burial plot is possibly located in the Calvary Catholic Cemetery (aka Bodega Calvary Cemetary) in Bodega, California, near the top of the hill and under the shade of eucalyptus trees there. Ianthe Brautigan purchased a plot in this cemetery, which is listed under the name "Robert G. Brautigan," but apparently has not yet erected a marker. The cemetery is connected with St. Philips in nearby Occidental, California. Photograph by Ross Smith. Used by permission.
This photograph of Brautigan, apparently an outtake from an article about Brautigan in the 14 August 1970 issue of LIFE magazine ("Gentle Poet of the Young: A Cult Grows around Richard Brautigan" by John Stickney) was used in a boxed trivia game titled "LIFE Magazine Remembers" issued by Time Life in 1985 (printed by Selchow & Righter). The game featured a set of 702 playing cards, each with a popular and/or famous photograph from the archives of LIFE magazine. Each card had a series of questions about the subject on the back side. The 3" x 5" Brautigan card was number 34 from the set.
The front shows a full bleed black and white photograph of Brautigan.
The back features a smaller version of the same photograph, Brautigan's name, trade text, and four trivia questions:
A. Who is this author of In Watermelon Sugar? (Richard Brautigan)
B. What is the title of his novel that reflects his California
background? (A Confederate General From Big Sur)
C. As a San Francisco author, what group of American writers is he
identified with? ("The Beat Generation")
D. Who wrote On The Road, perhaps the best known of the group this man is identified with? (Jack Kerouac)
Friday, 8 March 1985
Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), Brautigan's second wife, filed a petition to probate Brautigan's will dated 23 September 1977, contending their divorce settlement did not revoke Brautigan's will in which she was to be awarded half of the estate following his death. Brautigan and Akiko were married 1 December 1977, in Richmond, California. They separated on 4 December 1979. The final judgement of divorce was issued 12 November 1980.
Richard A. Hodge and Ianthe Brautigan, as trustees for the estate of Richard Brautigan, agreed to pay Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) $13,000 and 15% of all proceeds in excess of $75,000 derived from the sale of any assets from Brautigan's estate, except for his properties in Montana. In return, Yoshimura (Nishizawa) agreed to relinquish any claims or rights to Brautigan's estate or under his will.
Highlights: Bolinas property sold
Monday, 23 May 1986
Richard A. Hodge granted all right, title, and interest to Brautigan's property in Bolinas, California. Hodge granted full title and interest to the same property to Ianthe Brautigan on this same day. Ianthe sold the property, located at 6 Terrace Avenue, to James Zeno, Jr. and Karlyn Zeno, of Bolinas, California, 12 August 1986.
Highlights: Noted as one of 100 men and women from Washington state who changed the world
Washington 5(3) November 1988: 106.
The Evergreen State Magazine. This Special Centennial Issue was published in conjunction with Washington State's Centennial celebrations. This issue focused on "100 Washingtonians Who've Changed the World." Brautigan was one.
The full text for the entry regarding Brautigan reads
Author, 1935-1984. His offbeat novels (notably Trout Fishing in America) and poems echoed youth's 1960s disenchantment with the American Dream and made this Tacoma native a certifiable counterculture hero. No longer a publishing success in the '80s, he used a bullet to officially end his career. Probably the last person to talk with him, novelist Don Carpenter, describes Brautigan as "the most important writer to come out of the Pacific Northwest—ever. I'm not kidding."
Highlights: Reprint of first collection of works (1969) published