Brautigan > The Tokyo-Montana Express

This node of the American Dust website (formerly Brautigan Bibliography and Archive) provides comprehensive information about Richard Brautigan's novel The Tokyo-Montana Express. Published in 1980, this was Brautigan's ninth published novel. Publication and background information is provided, along with reviews, many with full text. Use the menu tabs below to learn more.

Publication

A limited Targ Edition of Richard Brautigan's novel The Tokyo-Montana Express was published in 1979. The first USA edition was published in 1980.

Targ Edition

1979
New York: Targ Editions
First printing 21 December 1979
7.25" x 10.5"; 37 pages
Hard cover, green, cloth-covered boards, with a clear glassine dust jacket
Authors name and book title embossed in gold on spine
Limited edition of 350 copies, each signed by Brautigan
Designed and handprinted by Leonard Seastone at Tideline Press
Number six of the Targ Editions
Published in Greenwich Village in New York, New York

Editor, bibliophile, and publisher William Targ started Targ Editions, a fine press, in 1978. He ran the press until 1985 and published twenty-five Targ Editions.

The Targ edition featured twenty of the stories included in the later Delacorte trade edition: "Subscribers to the Sun," "Spiders Are in the House," "The Closest I Have Been to the Sea Since Evolution," "The Smallest Snowstorm on Record," "Harem," "Ice Age Cab Company," "My Fair Tokyo Lady," "Crows Eating a Truck Tire in the Dead of Winter," "The Pacific Ocean," "Chicken Fable," "Umbrellas," "A Safe Journey Like This River," "Fantasy Ownership," "Autumn Trout Gathering," "A Reason for Living," "The Wolf Is Dead," "The Beautiful Oranges of Osaka," "Winter Vacation," "Drowned Japanese Boy," and "Kyoto, Montana."

Preface of Targ Edition

This small collection of short stories
was written in Tokyo and Montana between
1977 and 1978. The stories are positioned
so as to alternate between the two cultures.
They are another way of looking at things.
     RB
       June 15, 1979

Publisher's Copy

7.0" x 10.75"
Hard Cover; Boards covered with gray, gold, and blue paper cut and overlayed front and back to look like mountains against a blue sky
Title "THE TOKYO-MONTANA EXPRESS" embossed center top of front cover
Red cloth binding along spine
A note, typewritten on the sheet containing pages 25, 26, and the Colophon of the Targ edition, just below the Colophon, reads,
(TRIAL BINDING)

OUT OF SERIES—publisher's file copy:
This is an experimental copy lacking
corrections, printed by hand on Okawara
hand-made paper and bound in a trial
hand-produced binding. There are three
such copies in addition to the 350
copies above indicated in regular cloth

Signed by Brautigan, as per the 350 copies of the Targ edition. Additionally signed by William Targ, publisher.

First USA Edition

1980
New York: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence
258 pages; ISBN 0-440-08770-8
Hard Cover, with dust jacket; Title embossed in gold ink on the spine

Covers

Front cover dust jacket illustration of a medallion by Walter Harper. The same illustration is embossed in gold ink on the front cover.
Back cover photograph of Brautigan and Shiina Takako.

Back cover photograph by Nakai Keisuke of Brautigan and Shiina Takako
Takako owned The Cradle, a Tokyo bar patronized by writers and artists. The caption reads, "Richard Brautigan and Shiina Takako lolling in a small boat off the coast of Japan. It was a hot afternoon and they were tired of fishing."

Poet Gerald Locklin wrote this poem in response to the back cover of the Delacorte edition of The Tokyo-Montana Express.

"the cover of the tokyo-montana express

"so that's brautigan," she says.
"i guess so," i say.

"and that must be his japanese wife
in the front of the boat?"

"probably," i say, "although i suppose
it could be an enchanted halibut he reeled in
just before the picture was taken."

she doesn't think that's funny.
she doesn't think anything i say is funny.
she thinks brautigan is great
but when i say exactly the sort of thing
that brautigan would say
then i'm an asshole.

(Locklin, Gerald. "the cover of the tokyo-montana express." The Bellingham Review [Bellingham, WA; Signpost Press], vol. 6, no. 2, Fall 1983, p. 16.)

Preface of Delacorte Edition

"Though the Tokyo-Montana Express moves at a great speed, there are many stops along the way. This book is those brief stations: some confident, others still searching for their identities.

"The "I" in this book is the voice of the stations along the tracks of the Tokyo-Montana Express."

Proof Copy

Advance Reader Copy/Uncorrected Page Proof
New York: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1980

Promotional Material

Brautigan embarked on a promotional tour in November 1980. One stop on the tour was the Nebraska Bookstore at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he signed copies of The Tokyo-Montana Express. A poster advertising this event notes the date as Friday, 14 November. The poster, printed in black ink on brown paper reads
Richard Brautigan
The Tokyo-Montana Express
stops in Lincoln
for just 2 hours
on Friday, November 14
and Richard Brautigan is aboard.
Arrival: NOON
Depot: Nebraska Bookstore
Departure: 2 pm

Michael Zangari, a reporter for the Daily Nebraskan, the daily student newspaper at the University of Nebraska, wrote about Brautigan's appearance at the Nebraska Bookstore. (Zangari, Michael. "Author Brautigan Is Gilded As Counterculture Hero." Daily Nebraskan, 17 November 1979, p. 10.) See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes (the "Tributes" tab) for this article.

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Background

First published in 1980 (special Targ edition published 1979), The Tokyo-Montana Express, was Brautigan's ninth published novel.

Dedication

For Richard and Nancy Hodge

The Hodges were friends of Brautigan's in San Francisco. Richard Hodge, a lawyer and judge, served as Brautigan's attorney.

The Tokyo-Montana Express is a collection of one hundred and thirty-one "stations" inspired by memories of Japan and Montana, January-July 1976, that seem to form a somewhat autobiographical work. Brautigan, defending the unique form of this novel, said each section of the novel represented a separate stop along a journey, a station along a metaporical rail line joining Japan and Montana.

Common themes running through these stations include Brautigan's disillusionment with aging, the search for identity, the diversity of human nature, and cultural differences between Montana and Japan. A few stations deal with Shiina Takako, owner of The Cradle, a Tokyo bar patronized by writers and artists, and Brautigan.

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Contents

Unless noted, the contents of The Tokyo-Montana Express were first published in this volume. The chapters in order of their appearance.

The Overland Journey of Joseph Francl and the Eternal Sleep of His Wife Antonia in Crete, Nebraska

First Published
The Overland Journey of Joseph Francl: The First Bohemian to Cross the Plains to the California Gold Fields. San Francisco: William P. Wreden, 1968.
Limited edition of 540 copies of which 500 were offered for sale.
7.25" x 10" bound in white decorative paper boards.
Illustrated by Patricia Oberhaus, typographic design by Jack Werner Stauffacher of Greenwood Press, San Francisco.
Publication date: 16 December 1968.

Background
The publication announcement sent out by William P. Wreden notes the introduction by Richard Brautigan.
"Richard Brautigan is a novelist-poet living in San Francisco. His novels include A Confederate General from Big Sur and Trout Fishing in America. In the person of Joseph, Francl, freely, gently, in a new manner, he inquires after the phenomena of the overland pioneer." The announcement also includes an illustration of Joseph Francl by Oberhaus. A separate invitation to a publication party also mentioned Brautigan.

All the People That I Didn't Meet and the Places That I Didn't Go
The Japanese Squid Fishermen Are Asleep Now
The Smallest Snowstorm on Record
A San Francisco Snake Story
Football

First Published
TriQuarterly, vol. 35, Winter 1976, p. 89.
Published in Evanston, Illinois.
A two-volume set. Brautigan's story appears in Volume 1.

Ice Age Cab Company
Shrine of Carp
Meat

First Published
"Four Stories for Aki and Other Treats." California Living, 14 January 1979, pp. 5-7.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle. Described as "a compendium of short stories."
Featured seven stories: "The Short Story," "Walking Toward December," "The Purpose," "Meat," "The Great Golden Telescope," "Harmonica High," and "Her Last Known Boyfriend." The first two stories: "The Short Story" and "Walking Toward December" were not collected. The last, "Her Last Known Boyfriend" was retitled "Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman" in The Tokyo-Montana Express.

Background
The table of contents has this note about Brautigan. "Richard Brautigan is true to his word. In addition to being a fine writer and storyteller [sic]. That is why we are able to share with you some of his new short stories in Perspectives on Page 5. We were having lunch at Blanche's on a blustery day when Richard said he would send some of his new work so we could let you see it. A long time passed. He didn't forget. Neither will we."

Umbrellas
A Death in Canada
Autumn Trout Gathering

Background
Written in September 1977 at Brautigan's Pine Creek, Montana, ranch. Brautigan was there with his new (second) wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura (they were married 1 December 1977 in Port Richmond, California) and Tony Dingman, a friend since 1969 when they were introduced by Lew Welch. The story recounts Brautigan's preparations for the first day of trout fishing, and Akiko reminding him to bring Kleenex (William Hjortsberg 597).

Harmonica High

First Published
"Four Stories for Aki and Other Treats." California Living, 14 January 1979. pp 5-7.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle. Described as "a compendium of short stories." Featured seven stories by Brautigan: "The Short Story," "Walking Toward December," "The Purpose," "Meat," "The Great Golden Telescope," "Harmonica High," and "Her Last Known Boyfriend." The first two stories: "The Short Story" and "Walking Toward December" were not collected. The last, "Her Last Known Boyfriend" was retitled "Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman" in The Tokyo-Montana Express.

Winter Vacation
The Purpose"

First Published
"Four Stories for Aki and Other Treats." California Living, 14 January 1979, pp 5-7.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle. Described as "a compendium of short stories." Featured seven stories by Brautigan: "The Short Story," "Walking Toward December," "The Purpose," "Meat," "The Great Golden Telescope," "Harmonica High," and "Her Last Known Boyfriend." The first two stories: "The Short Story" and "Walking Toward December" were not collected. The last, "Her Last Known Boyfriend" was retitled "Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman" in The Tokyo-Montana Express.

The Irrevocable Sadness of Her Thank You"

Background
Brautigan visited Japan for the third time in June-July 1978. This story recounts a Japanese woman thanking him for offering her his seat on the Yamanote Line train (William Hjortsberg 612).

No Hunting Without Permission
OPEN
Spiders Are in the House

Background
Written in September 1977 at Brautigan's Pine Creek, Montana, ranch. Brautigan was there with his new (second) wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura (they were married 1 December 1977 in Port Richmond, California) and Tony Dingman, a friend since 1969 when they were introduced by Lew Welch. The story tells of spiders seeking shelter the house from the outside cold temperatures (William Hjortsberg 597).

Very Good Dead Friends
What Are You Going to Do with 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees?

First Published
Evergreen Review, vol. 61, December 1968, pp 24-26.
Included a montage of nine photographs of discarded Christmas trees by Erik Weber, who is the photographer friend Brautigan refers to in the story. Brautigan called Weber the first week in January 1964, and enlisted his help in photographing discarded Christmas trees. The project, thought Brautigan, would show the shallowness of Christmas, and how easily it was discarded once passed. Brautigan originally intended a small, illustrated book, but never followed through. Instead, he wrote this story, recounting his project with Weber and an anonymous friend. In the original story, everyone is referred to by their proper name, except the anonymous friend. When he included this story in The Tokyo-Montana Express, Brautigan, who had ended his friendship with Weber, changed his name from "Erik" to "Bob." Evergreen Review, published in New York, New York, 1957-1973, was edited by Barnet Lee "Barney" Rosset, Jr. (1922-2012) and Donald Merriam Allen (1912-2004) (numbers 1-6 only) with the backing of Grove Press.

Selected Reprints
A Legend of Horses Poems and Stories
No stated publisher, but possibly Pacific Red Car Press
No printing, place, or date information
5" x 9"; Printed wrappers; Stapled binding

Reprinted ten Brautigan poems
"A Legend of Horses"
"A Moth in Tucson, Arizona"
"Hinged to Forgetfulness Like a Door"
"Heroine of the Time Machine"
"The Buses"
"Period Piece"
"Psalm"
"Towards the Pleasures of a Reconstituted Crow"
"The Memoirs of Jesse James"
"Love's Not The Way to Treat a Friend"
and the story "What Are You Going to Do with 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees."

Selected Creative Responses
Jarvis Cocker, BBC6, reads "What Are You Going to Do with 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees?"

The Pacific Ocean
Another Texas Ghost Story
There Is No Dignity, Only the Windswept Plains of Ankona
The Tomb of the Unknown Friend
Cooking Spaghetti Dinner in Japan
The Beacon
Blue Sky

Background
Written in December 1977 at Brautigan's Pine Creek, Montana, ranch. Brautigan was there with his new (second) wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura (they were married 1 December 1977 in Port Richmond, California) and Tony Dingman, a friend since 1969 when they were introduced by Lew Welch. The weather was bad, neighbors were away and everyone looked for ways to keep busy. Dingman started a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a harbor scene with boats under a clear blue sky but abandoned his efforts when he could not complete the sky. Hearing him complain about the hopeless task of completing the puzzle's sky, Brautigan took the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed the entire puzzle off the dining room table (William Hjortsberg 603).

An Eye for Good Produce

First Published
Mademoiselle November 1974, pp. 192-193.

Gone Before We Open Our Eyes
Harem
Montana Love
Cat Cantaloupe

Background
Written in September 1977 at Brautigan's Pine Creek, Montana, ranch. Brautigan was there with his new (second) wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura (they were married 1 December 1977 in Port Richmond, California) and Tony Dingman, a friend since 1969 when they were introduced by Lew Welch. Two cats owned by neighbors William "Gatz" Hjortsberg and his wife Mariam, Pandora and Queever, frequently visited Brautigan's house. One evening, Brautigan and Akiko put their plates of uneaten cantaloupe on the floor and were surprised when the two cats ate the melons. Brautigan fictionalized the event, and told of luring to his house with "extravagant promises of cat delicacies" (William Hjortsberg 597).

Al's Rose Harbor

First Published
San Francisco Stories 1979
Paperback, with printed wrappers; 59 pages.
Edited by George Matchette, Robert Monson, and Charles Rubin.
Published in San Francisco, California. First issue of a biannual magazine of "Short Fiction by Bay Area Writers." Featured three stories by Brautigan: "Skylab at the Graves of Abbott and Costello," "Al's Rose Harbor," and "Waking Up Again." Also featured original works by Michael Rubin, Annette Dozier, Yuri Kageyama, Barry Gifford, Ray Scippa, and Jane Nudelman.

Farewell to the First Grade and Hello to the National Enquirer

First Published
The CoEvolution Quarterly, no. 21, Spring (March 21) 1979, p. 77.
Published by Point, Sausalito, California.
Brautigan's story appeared in a section titled "Used Magazines" where "63 strange people tell what they read." Included in the list of "strange people" were Wendell Berry, William S. Burroughs, Robert Crumb, and Allen Ginsberg. Of note: William S. Burroughs read Soldier of Fortune.

The Wolf Is Dead
The Closest I Have Been to the Sea Since Evolution
Homage to Groucho Marx
A Feeling of Helplessness

First Published
"2 New Stories by Richard Brautigan." The New Ingenue, May 1973, pp. 92-93.
Published by Ingenue Communciations, New York, New York.
Featured two stories by Brautigan: "A Feeling of Helplessness" and "The Last of my Armstrong Creek Mosquito Bites." The table of contents reads: "A FEELING OF HELPLESSNESS/THE LAST OF MY ARMSTRONG MOSQUITO BITES
Richard Brautigan gives us two new short stories."

Both stories printed on page 92. a photograph by Erik Weber of Brautigan fishing Armstrong Creek, Montana, October 1972, was used as a background across the two pages.

One Arm Burning in Tokyo

Background
Brautigan visited Japan for the third time in June-July 1978. This story was told him by Shiina Takako, owner of The Cradle, a Tokyo bar patronized by writers and artists, and Brautigan, regarding the absence one day of the bartender. He was at the funeral of a young man who committed suicide by jumping from a hospital window (William Hjortsberg 612).

Rubber Bands
Werewolf Raspberries
Toothbrush Ghost Story
Skylab at the Graves of Abbott and Costello

First Published
San Francisco Stories 1979
Paperback, with printed wrappers; 59 pages.
Edited by George Matchette, Robert Monson, and Charles Rubin.
Published in San Francisco. First issue of a biannual magazine of "Short Fiction by Bay Area Writers." Featured three stories by Brautigan: "Skylab at the Graves of Abbott and Costello," "Al's Rose Harbor," and "Waking Up Again." Also featured original works by Michael Rubin, Annette Dozier, Yuri Kageyama, Barry Gifford, Ray Scippa, and Jane Nudelman.

The Bed Salesman

First Published
Transatlantic Review, vol. 58, no. 59, February 1977, p. 117.
Published in London, England and New York, New York. Edited by J. F. McCrindle.

Tire Chain Bridge
White
Montana Traffic Spell

Background
Written in Fall 1978 at Brautigan's Pine Creek, Montana, ranch. Brautigan was there with his new (second) wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura (they were married 1 December 1977 in Port Richmond, California) and Tony Dingman. This story recounts the time Tony Dingman, a friend of Brautigan's since 1969 when they were introduced by Lew Welch. The story recounts Dingman's failure to drive forward from an intersection in a Montana town that had no stop sign (William Hjortsberg 618).

Hangover as Folk Art
Marching in the Opposite Direction of a Pizza
Dogs on the Roof

First Published
Outside , September 1977, p. 7.

California Mailman
The Cobweb Toy
Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman

First Published
"Four Stories for Aki and Other Treats." California Living, 14 January 1979, pp. 5-7.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle. Described as "a compendium of short stories." Featured seven stories by Brautigan: "The Short Story," "Walking Toward December," "The Purpose," "Meat," "The Great Golden Telescope," "Harmonica High," and "Her Last Known Boyfriend." The first two stories: "The Short Story" and "Walking Toward December" were not collected. The last, "Her Last Known Boyfriend" was retitled "Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman" in The Tokyo-Montana Express.

The Butcher
To the Yotsuya Station
A Safe Journey Like This River
Parking Place Lost
Studio 54
Crows Eating a Truck Tire in the Dead of Winter

Background
Written in winter 1978 at Brautigan's Pine Creek, Montana, ranch. Brautigan was there with his new (second) wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura (they were married 1 December 1977 in Port Richmond, California) and Tony Dingman, a friend since 1969 when they were introduced by Lew Welch. Dingman drove Brautigan from his Pine Creek ranch to Bozeman, Montana, where they Henry Dean Stanton who flew from Los Angeles, California, for a visit. On the way back to the Pine Creek ranch, they encountered six crows eating an abandoned truck tire in the middle of the road. They did not fly away as Dingman swerved the car to avoid hitting them. Allegedly, Stanton remarked, "You've got some winter here. Those crows are hungry" (William Hjortsberg 605).

Something Cooking
Cold Kingdom Enterprise
The Beautiful Oranges of Osaka
Drowned Japanese Boy
The Great Golden Telescope

First Published
"Four Stories for Aki and Other Treats." California Living 14 January 1979: 5-7.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle. Described as "a compendium of short stories." Featured seven stories by Brautigan: "The Short Story," "Walking Toward December," "The Purpose," "Meat," "The Great Golden Telescope," "Harmonica High," and "Her Last Known Boyfriend." The first two stories: "The Short Story" and "Walking Toward December" were not collected. The last, "Her Last Known Boyfriend" was retitled "Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman" in The Tokyo-Montana Express.

The Man Who Shot Jesse James
Dancing Feet
Seventeen Dead Cats
Light on at the Tastee-Freez
The Eyes of Japan
The Magic of Peaches
Times Square in Montana
Wind in the Ground
Tokyo Snow Story
The Last of My Armstrong Spring Creek Mosquito Bites

First Published
"2 New Stories by Richard Brautigan." The New Ingenue, May 1973, pp. 92-93.
Published by Ingenue Communciations, New York, New York.
Featured two stories by Brautigan: "A Feeling of Helplessness" and "The Last of my Armstrong Creek Mosquito Bites." The table of contents reads :"A FEELING OF HELPLESSNESS/THE LAST OF MY ARMSTRONG MOSQUITO BITES
Richard Brautigan gives us two new short stories."

Both stories printed on page 92. a photograph by Erik Weber of Brautigan fishing Armstrong Creek, Montana, October 1972, was used as a background across the two pages.

Clouds over Egypt
Fantasy Ownership
The Mill Creek Penguins
A Reason for Living
1953 Chevrolet

Background
Written in Fall 1978 at Brautigan's Pine Creek, Montana, ranch. Brautigan was there with his new (second) wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura (they were married 1 December 1977 in Port Richmond, California) and Tony Dingman, a friend since 1969 when they were introduced by Lew Welch. Dingman saw a newspaper advertisement for the car that turned out to be only an engine (William Hjortsberg 618).

My Fair Tokyo Lady

Background
Brautigan visited Japan for the third time in June-July 1978. This story recounts seeing a Japanese stage production of My Fair Lady in Tokyo with Shiina Takako, owner of The Cradle, a Tokyo bar patronized by writers and artists, and Brautigan (William Hjortsberg 612).

The Menu/1965

First Published
Evergreen Review, August 1966, pp. 30-32, 86.
Brautigan discussed the menu served to San Quentin Death Row prisoners saying, "It's so stark, so real . . . it's like a poem. This menu alone condemns our society. To feed somebody this kind of food who is already effectively dead represents all the incongruity of the whole damn thing. It's senseless."

Editor Robert Sherrill contacted Brautigan in March 1965 and saying he wanted a story about death row. Sherrill wanted a story based on facts, but told with fictional techniques and Brautigan's point of view, a funny story pointing to the absurdity rather than the horror of the lives of those livingon death row. Esquire offered US$600.00, plus expenses, plus a US$200.00 guarantee in case they refused the story. Brautigan contacted Associate Warden in charge of press relations James Park, 1 April asking if he might visit San Quentin death row. Brautigan rode a bus from San Francisco to San Quentin in Marin County. Brautigan filled fourteen pages in his notebook with notes about the condemed men and their last words. He was interested in what the men of death row ate regularly. Warden Park gave him a copy of the menu listing everything the men on death row could eat the week of 12-18 April 1965. Back in San Francisco, Brautigan shared his notes and observations with Zekial Marko (the "aspiring Hollywood scriptwriter" noted in the story), Philip Whalen, Lew Welch, and others. He incorporated several of their remarks into his final story which he sent to Sherrill before the end of the month. Brautigan included the actual menu, as a piece of found art, in the middle of his story. Sherrill edited Brautigan's story, but then declined to publish it in Esquire. Brautigan placed Sherrill's edited version in Evergreen Review the following year.

Evergreen Review, published in New York, New York, 1957-1973, was edited by Barnet Lee "Barney" Rosset, Jr. (1922-2012) and Donald Merriam Allen (1912-2004) (numbers 1-6 only) with the backing of Grove Press.

The Convention
In Pursuit of the Impossible Dream

First Published
New Orleans Review, vol. 7, no. 1, 1980, p. 24.
Published by Loyola University, New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Old Testament Book of the Telephone Company
Breakfast in Beirut
Another Montana School Gone to the Milky Way
Four People in Their Eighties

Background
Brautigan visited Japan for the third time in June-July 1978. This story was inspired by a statement from Japanese poet Shuntarõ Tanikawa regarding the fact that he lived with three people over the age of eighty: his two parents and an aunt (William Hjortsberg 612).

My Fault
Florida
Ghosts
A Study in Thyme and Funeral Parlors
Rabbits
A Different Way of Looking at President Kennedy's Assassination
Portrait of a Marriage
Self-Portrait as an Old Man

Background
Written in October 1978 at Brautigan's Pine Creek, Montana, ranch. Brautigan was there with his new (second) wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura (they were married 1 December 1977 in Port Richmond, California) and Tony Dingman, a friend since 1969 when they were introduced by Lew Welch. This story recounts Brautigan buying a German chocolate cake at the Pine Creek Methodist Church annual October auction (William Hjortsberg 618).

Beer Story
Homage to Rudi Gernreich

First Published
Earth, vol. 2, no. 1, January 1971.
Titled here "Homage to Rudi Gernreich/1965."
A story about the Pet Cemetary in San Francisco's The Presidio.
Featured a photograph taken in November 1965 by Erik Weber of Brautigan looking over the pet tombstones there.

The magazine (8" x 11.5" with cover artwork by Bob Zoell) featured four pages of artwork by Robert Crumb titled "Mr. Natural's 719th Meditation" and full color photographs of musician Shuggie Otis by San Francisco photographer Lisa Law.

A quote by California designer Rudi Gernreich acts as a prologue to the story. "The look in clothes expresses an anti-attitude, the result of being bored . . . And so, if you're bored, you go for the outrageous gesture. Everything else seems to have lost any meaning."

Background
In 1964, perhaps bored with current clothing fashions, Gernreich introduced the topless bathing suit. Following the call for the outrageous gesture, Brautigan writes about being able to wear this small pet cemetary like a Gernreich coat and being confronted by two young men, shipping out for South Vietnam, having just recently completed their training at the nearby military base in San Francisco's Presidio. Brautigan first sent the story, with photographs by Weber, to Mademoiselle magazine, who declined publication.

Turkey and Dry Breakfast Cereal Sonata
Old Man Working the Rain
The Remarkable Dining Cars of the Northern Pacific Railroad
Railroading in Tokyo
Two Montana Humidifiers
Contents for Good Luck

Background
Brautigan visited Japan for the third time in June-July 1978. This story recounts a poem by Shuntarõ Tanikawa about unfaithful women.

Tod
Five Ice-Cream Cones Running in Toyko
The Good Work of Chickens
Castle of the Snow Bride
The Instant Ghost Town
The Mouse
House of Carpets
The 1977 Television Season
The Window
Painstaking Popcorn Label
Imaginary Beginning to Japan
Leaves
Waking Up Again

First Published
San Francisco Stories 1979
Paperback, with printed wrappers; 59 pages.
Edited by George Matchette, Robert Monson, and Charles Rubin.
Published in San Francisco. First issue of a biannual magazine of "Short Fiction by Bay Area Writers." Featured three stories by Brautigan: "Skylab at the Graves of Abbott and Costello," "Al's Rose Harbor," and "Waking Up Again." Also featured original works by Michael Rubin, Annette Dozier, Yuri Kageyama, Barry Gifford, Ray Scippa, and Jane Nudelman.

Poetry Will Come to Montana on March 24th
Sunday
Japanese Love Affair
Tap Dancing Chickadee Slaves
Pleasures of the Swamp
Sky Blue Pants
Kyoto, Montana
A Different or the Same Drummer
When 3 Made Sense for the First Time
A One-Frame Movie about a Man Living in the 1970s
My Tokyo Friend
Chicken Fable
The Fence
Subscribers to the Sun

Background
Brautigan visited Japan for the third time in June-July 1978. Early one morning, back from a night of drinking in Tokyo, Brautigan witnessed the Keio Plaza Hotel teletype machine coming online. He carefully recorded the machine's preliminary keystrokes (William Hjortsberg 612).

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Reviews

Reviews for The Tokyo-Montana Express are detailed below. See also reviews of Brautigan's collected works, and General Reviews for commentary about Brautigan's work and his place in American literature.

Ackroyd, Peter. "From the American Playground." The Sunday Times [London], 12 Apr. 1981, p. 43.
An unfavorable review: "Brautigan's writing leaves a sickly feeling in the mouth."

The full text of this review reads, "'The smallest snowstorm on record took place an hour ago in my back yard. It was approximately two flakes. I waited for more to fall, but that was it.' If there is one immediately recognisable quality in Richard Brautigan's writing, it is that broken-backed, wry, mannered, teasing little style. A number of American writers invented it in the early Sixties—Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch being, I suppose, the most eminent—and at the time it seemed fresh, invigorating almost. It wasn't taking itself seriously and that meant, of course, that it wasn't about to take anything else seriously. In retrospect, it seems like a coy glissando in America's loud imperial opera.

"What Brautigan has always done, and what he does in this new book with the kind of ease which comes from long practice combined with a certain lack of artistic development, is to deal with his culture as though it were a number of tiny and unrelated fragments; he is, as they say, 'goofing off.' The Tokyo-Montana Express is set principally in Japan and America, perhaps the two most crassly commercialised cultures on earth. Confronted with this Babylonian canvas, he peers with willful jokiness at the bottom left-hand corner, at discarded Christmas trees for example, or at lightbulbs, or at a popcorn label.

"Here is an anthology of some 150 short narratives, from 'Cooking Spaghetti Dinner in Japan' to 'Seventeen Dead Cats.' One image keeps on returning. It is that of a deserted department store or showroom. I have never been to Tokyo or Montana, but I cannot believe that there are so many abandoned stores in either place. The image is so insistent, however, that it soon becomes clear that this is Brautigan's fantasy of America itself. It is presented in this book as a vast consumer play-ground, without the distracting presence of cash registers or other shoppers, in which Brautigan can pick out item after item and try them on.

"This nostalgic commercialism has its advantages. The book is easy on the eye, and it is often quite funny. Brautigan's vision of life is of some random and uncontrollable practical joke; the general sense is one of time passing, leaving a trail of empty days, faded memories, and the occasional wreckage of human beings who have tried to move against the flow. 'But I can't change the world. It was already changed before I got here.' What we get is Brautigan's literary personality spread thinly across the pages—he presents himself as whimsical, wacky, sensitive. We are implicitly invited to read the book in a similarly light spirit. Gee, to use one of his favourite words, I would like to, really. But Brautigan's writing leaves a sickly feeling in the mouth.

Aucoln, Jim. "Crete Stop for Brautigan." Lincoln Journal and Star [Lincoln, Nebraska], 9 Nov. 1980, p. 15TV.
Says, "[The Tokyo-Montana Express] clearly defines Brautigan's Weltanschauung, which is a view worth knowing as America plunges into the 1980s." READ this review.

Anonymous. "Brautigan, Richard." Kirkus Reviews, 15 Aug. 1980. pp. 1093-1094.
The full text of this review reads, "Not a novel—but rather 131 autobiographical short takes, about evenly divided in setting between Montana and Tokyo, as Brautigan himself is during the year. True, a good many of these prose poems are insufferably cloying, reductive little lemon drops in Brautigan's familiar virile-winsome style: an afternoon snowfall consisting of just two flakes; umbrellas ('I can't understand why they appear just before it starts to rain'); cats eating cantaloupe; a failed Chinese restaurant; photographing a collection of discarded Christmas trees; a fable of dancing chickadees. Yet what makes Brautigan so awful some of the time—the clipped vagrancy of his attention—often also becomes his greatest strength. There's a grand vignette, for instance, of the writer as bore: Brautigan telephones a friend to report, 'Well, I've just been fishing and writing. I've written seven little short stories this week'; and the friend answers, 'Nobody cares.' Or the lovely moment when Brautigan hears "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" (which he's sung snatches of for decades) over a Tokyo loudspeaker and pays attention to the lyrics for the first time—'as if the words were lumber and a house was being built out of them. When the song was finished, the house was built and then it was my mind on a little side street near the river.' Interestingly, the most successful of these laconic notations generally involve Brautigan's confessions of feeling out-of-it now, and indeed these prose munchies—crunchy and wholesome as granola—do often seem dated, forever of the Sixties. Still: a few genuine delights amid the crackerjacks, and sheer pleasure for unquestioning, longtime Brautigan fans."

Anonymous. "The Tokyo-Montana Express." People Weekly, vol. 14, no. 22, 1 Dec. 1980, p. 16.
Part of the "Picks & Pans" regular feature; "A checklist of this week's noteworthy TV shows, books, movies, records and other happenings."

The full text of this review reads, "His best work since 1967's Trout Fishing in America, this assortment of essays and short stories is like a photo album of Brautigan's annual journeys between his favorite city, Tokyo, and his home, Montana's Paradise Valley (People Weekly, 3 November 1980). His perceptions as a traveler flash-freeze into snapshots: a Japanese family running while carrying ice-cream cones, a sad woman on a Tokyo train, a bed salesman with no customers, six crows eating a truck tire in the dead of winter. The small adventures of country living are interwoven with the bizarre encounters of the ultra-urban environment. While fact and fantasy sometimes blur, the pages are spiced with shrewd insights, whimsy and musings. The author coyly disowns the autobiographical details, insisting in his preface that it is really the story of the 'train' of the title. That conceit aside, the funny, fast-paced reading is worth the fare."

Bannon, Barbara A. "The Tokyo-Montana Express." Publishers Weekly, 19 Sep. 1980, pp. 144-145.
The full text of this review reads, "What does Richard Brautigan (Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur) think about in the 1980s? Now middle-aged, he thinks a great deal about death. Married to a Japanese woman, he thinks a good deal about the superiority of Japanese women to American women. The vignettes in this novel, his 19th, are 'the many stops along the way' of the imaginary Tokyo-Montana Express. 'The 'I' in this novel is the voice of the stations along the tracks . . .' ruminating on such matters as Harmonica High, where everybody plays; buying a humidifier in Montana; what cantaloupe tastes like to a cat; and the menu on Death Row (one of the few genuinely funny moments here). The vignettes are, for the most part, self-indulgent, lackadaisical, uninspired. And Brautigan fails to achieve the driving locomotive effect that he promises. These facts probably won't deter his fans, however. (25,000 first printing)"

Reprinted

Publishers Weekly, 11 September 1981, p 71.

Berry, John D. "Taking a Ride with Richard Brautigan." Washington Post Book World, 19 Oct. 1980, p 14.
Says, "Brautigan spends most of his time describing things, and it is his unusual descriptions that catch our attention. But the interest lasts only as long as his descriptions stay fresh; after that we look beyond them for something more permanent. In The Tokyo-Montana Express the descriptions wilt after a while, and there is nothing behind them." READ this review.

Reprinted

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 42. Eds. Daniel G. Marowski and Roger Matuz. Gale Research Company, 1980, pp. 48-66.

Brosnahan, John. "Brautigan, Richard." The Booklist, 1 Oct. 1980, p. 181.
The full text of this review reads, "Scenes from Brautigan's life relayed in a laid-back autobiographical novel prove that the author's funky brand of counter-cultural charm is still alive and well. In Brautigan's stomping grounds of Montana, Japan, San Francisco, and New Mexico, life's oddities—poetry on early morning television, menus on Death Row, the mysteries of the inscrutable Orient, the behavior of chickens—are perused with off-the-wall compassion and sweet-natured outrageousness. A distinctive if roundabout and idiosyncratic journey of the imaginaion. Brautigan is also the author of Dreaming of Babylon."

Carl, John. "Best Brautigan: Tokyo-Montana Express Charms." Ottawa Citizen, 27 Dec. 1980, p. ***?***.
Calls this "Brautigan's best book thus far." Concludes, "Anyone will enjoy Tokyo-Montana who doesn't demand philosophic enquiry [sic] and sociological analysis from every line they read, who might delight in astonishing lyrical metaphor, and who appreciates the very real humor and sadness found everywhere in the world."

The full text of this review reads, "I love The Tokyo-Montana Express. It made me laugh hundreds of times, usual for almost anything by Richard Brautigan. Unusually it made me cry, and feel good about that, more than once. It's not exactly a novel. Its many short-story-like episodes have little in common aside from their origin in the humor and compassion of Brautigan's mind. The language, as ever, is liquid and melifluous throughout . . . tiny ripples carefully observed.

"The episodes take place mainly in Japan and Montana, and in San Francisco on occasion—the three places Brautigan calls home.

"The vast differences among the places are delineated by the precision of Brautigan's gentle eye. People and places and things are not the same wherever he goes. Everything is different and new and wonderful. His delight in the world is infectious and charming. The charm of his work is here expanded to new limits. The Tokyo-Montana Express is Brautigan's best book thus far, better than his early-1960s classics Trout Fishing in America and In Watermelon Sugar—and a remarkable break from the rut he seemed to be in with the more recent Willard and His Bowling Trophies and Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Western [sic], which disappointed even some of his most enthusiastic fans.

"A brief quote illustrates the simple lyrical imagery of the book:
'He says that he has a son who is not mentally normal and he's been trying to explain to the child what an earthquake is, so the boy will understand and not be frightened, but he can't find a way to do it.
'Does he understand what the wind is?' I ask.
'Yes.'
'Tell him an earthquake is a wind that blows through the ground.'

"Anyone will enjoy Tokyo-Montana who doesn't demand philosophic enquiry [sic] and sociological analysis from every line they read, who might delight in astonishing lyrical metaphor, and who appreciates the very real humor and sadness found everywhere in the world."

Carpenter, Don. "Brautigan Writing at His Peak." San Francisco Examiner, 2 Nov. 1980, p. 6.
Don Carpenter and Brautigan were good, long-time friends. Carpenter recounts his own difficulties regarding opinion as a basis for judging the worth of an author or an author's work. Defends his opinion of Brautigan as a great writer of important prose. READ this review.

Carver, Raymond. "Brautigan Serves Werewolf Berries and Cat Cantaloupe." Chicago Tribune, 26 Oct. 1980: Arts & Books, Sec. 7, p. 3.
Calls The Tokyo-Montana Express an "uneven collection of prose pieces." Says some are "just filling up space" while others are "little astonishments going off in your hands." Wishes that an editor-friend had provided Brautigan with advice about which of the best pieces to use in the book. READ this review.

Reprinted

Carver, Raymond. "Brautigan Serves Werewolf Berries and Cat Cantaloupe." Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose. Ed. William L. Stull. Vintage Books, 2001, pp. 258-259.
Reprints 26 October 1980 Chicago Tribune review.

Reviews of Call If You Need Me

Garrett, Daniel. "Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose." World Literature Today Summer-Autumn 2001, pp. 143-144.
Notes the inclusion of this review and says Carver asks the question: "Isn't there someone around who loves this author more than anything, someone he loves and trusts in return, who could sit down with him and tell him what's good, even wonderful, in this farrago of bits and pieces, and what is lightweight, plain silly stuff and better left unsaid, or in the notebooks? (143)"

Carver and Brautigan Compared
Reid, David. "A Dirty Realist; No Heroics Please: Uncollected Writings By Raymond Carver." The Los Angeles Times, 19 July 1992, Book Review Section, p. 1. Reviews Carver's book, saying, "I wonder if he recognized himself in Richard Brautigan's "1/3, 1/3," which is included in "American Short Story Masterpieces." Brautigan's small masterpiece is about three lost souls at work on a novel, in a squalid house trailer on a rainy day in Oregon, hopefully "pounding at the gates of American literature." Carver came into fashion just as Brautigan was passing out, and their writing lives were very different. Brautigan was a bohemian, while Ray was temperamentally a bourgeois and always longed to pay his bills on time. Despite endless complaints about blue-collar "crap jobs," he spent most of his career in the dispersed but provincial world of the writer's workshop and the creative-writing class. He never handed out broadsides on Haight Street or seriously aspired to make a million dollars in a year. Still, the two of them, near-contemporaries, were alike in coming from miserably poor families in the Pacific Northwest, "that dark, rainy land"; in prizing simplicity and drinking too much; in their unexpected (but not looked for) worldwide celebrity."

Clark, Jeff. "Brautigan, Richard." Library Journal, vol. 105, no. 20, 15 Nov. 1980, p. 2430.
The full text of this review reads, "Here again is Brautigan in his inimitable buffet style, serving up a diverse feast of life—outer and inner—through a gentle, probing intelligence. The table set across Tokyo, San Francisco, and Montana, we can sample homely adventures (buying a humidifier for the first time), comic epiphanies (mistaking fallen plum leaves for chocolate wrappers), whimsical dilemmas (the smell of a dead mouse in one's heart banished by a beautiful woman's perfume), and pure fancies (tap-dancing chickadees hooked on sunflower seeds), besides a handful of canny character vignettes. There are some flossy calories here. But fans will eat it all up, and even those who decline a meal ticket to the end of the line will find many stops they won't want to miss."

Reprinted

The Library Journal Book Review 1980. Ed. Janet Fletcher. R.R. Bowker Company, 1981, p. 596.

Crouch, Jeff. "Discontinuity in Richard Brautigan's The Tokyo-Montana Express." The Midwest Quarterly, Summer 1992, pp. 393-402.
Says whether we think of Brautigan as "a nostaliga-worn and sentimental hippie, an eccentric leftover from the 60s, or as a postmodern writer much engaged in the discovery of fictional forms" he faces the "impossibility—and freedom—of determining meaning." Instead, Brautigan tries to define his world as one of a random series of events or pieces that rather than reflections on the absurd are the "minute details of life." Says Brautigan focuses attention on what is missing. READ this review.

Daily, Robert. "The Tokyo-Montana Express." Saturday Review, Oct. 1980, p. 87.
The full text of this review reads, "This novel The Tokyo-Montana Express has nothing to do with trains. Nor is it really a novel. Richard Brautigan has gathered 131 very brief sketches—'one-frame movies' he calls them—of people in Japan and the American West, 'some confident, others still searching for their identities.' Their stories are curiously similar. Many are retired hippies and occasional philosophers, and all lead kooky lives; they chase lost snowflakes, feed cantaloupe to cats, teach chickadees to tap dance, and photograph abandoned Christmas trees.

"Sadly, Brautigan's long-awaited ninth 'novel' is as craggy and uneven as the Montana landscapes he evokes. Some of the scenes he paints are compelling and hauntingly unforgettable, but many are painfully dull, they seem crude and unfinished, like hurried practice exercises. His language is generally swift, lean, and precise, but sometimes he slips into the sloppy style and vapidity of a college freshman ('the people are very nice' serves as description in one sketch). If only Brautigan had discarded the less-promising vignettes and taken more care in developing the others."

Greenwell, Bill. "Lobster Eating." New Statesman, 8 May 1981, p. 21.
Mimics Brautigan's style of writing "tiny portions of reality" to recall browsing through a collection of his books. Speaks of lobster as his favorite food, to be eaten quickly and with the guilty pleasure of enjoying a succulent, but dead, pleasure. READ this review.

Halpern, Sue M. "A Pox on Dullness." The Nation, vol. 231, no. 13, 25 October 1980, pp. 415-417.
Reviews both Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, and Brautigan's The Tokyo-Montana Express. READ this review.

Reprinted

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 42. Eds. Daniel G. Marowski and Roger Matuz. Gale Research Company, 1980, pp. 48-66.

Harper, Cathy. "Brautigan, Richard." VOYA [Voice of Youth Advocates], Apr.1981, p. 30.
The full text of this review reads, "The Tokyo-Montana Express (a metaphor for Brautigan's physical and mental wanderings) is appropriately named. Few of the 'stops' along its path are sufficiently thought-provoking to make the reader want to stop. The book is comprised of anecdotes and observations that aim, like a poem, to express something profound in a few words and images. Unfortunately, too many of the pieces are either overly sentimental or flat. Even YAs [young adults] who enjoy reflective prose will probably tire of this quickly."

Hill, Douglas. "The Tokyo-Montana Express." The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Canada], 17 Jan. 1981, p. ***?***.
Says, "Brautigan's not an important figure these days, even in the underground. But he's still worth reading. He's always insisted quietly, that what he sees and feels counts, can be made to count, no matter how insignificant or fleeting it appears to be. And he's always taken pains to describe those feelings, and the insights they lead him to, with unpretentious honesty." READ this review.

Jackson, Mick. "Books: I Wish I'd Written." The Guardian [Manchester, England], 2 Jan. 1997, p. 15.
Review appears in The Guardian 2, a tabloid supplement to the newspaper. Says, "The Tokyo-Montana Express is a writer's notebook, made up of stories, musings and mini-discourses written whilst in Japan and back home in the United States, each entry informed by a sort of eccentric hippy metaphysics. He contemplates the menus and toothbrushes and rubber bands of this world with the determined eye of a child, finding cause for celebration there. The first thing you notice is the ingenuous quality of his prose, but stirred in with it there's more wit and wonder and plain humanity than we have any right to expect."

The full text of the review reads, "Just about anything by Richard Brautigan. However, I do have a special affection for The Tokyo-Montana Express as I can locate in it (page 27) the precise moment when Brautigan first lit up the lightbulb in my head.

"The story 'Shrine of Carp' is all of a page and a half long and describes a late-night taxi ride in Shibuya, Japan. The protagonist/author finds that the taxi he's climbed into has an interior plastered with pictures of carp (apparently a symbol of good luck in Japan) and as he is driven home he has a minor revelation—he momentarily grasps what he and his carp-obsessed cab-driver are doing there.

"Brautigan's books are full of such everyday epiphanies, which quietly pull the rug from under the reader's feet. The Tokyo-Montana Express is a writer's notebook, made up of stories, musings and mini-discourses written whilst in Japan and back home in the United States, each entry informed by a sort of eccentric hippy metaphysics. He contemplates the menus and toothbrushes and rubber bands of this world with the determined eye of a child, finding cause for celebration there. The first thing you notice is the ingenuous quality of his prose, but stirred in with it there's more wit and wonder and plain humanity than we have any right to expect.

"Unfortunately, his books are currently out of print in Britain, so if I find myself in a secondhand bookshop I'll always look under 'B' for his old paperbacks. If I turn any up I'll buy them—not for myself, but to give to people who have yet to discover him.

"Now how many writers would you do that for?"

Jones, Lewis. "Amis of Industry." Punch, 25 Aug. 1982, p. 292.
Reviews Other People: A Mystery Story by Martin Amis, In Evil Hour by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Joshua Then and Now by Mordecai Richler, World's End by Paul Theroux, Black Faces, White Faces by Jane Gardam, and The Tokyo-Montana Express by Brautigan.

Says, of Brautigan, "The Tokyo-Montana Express sounds like one of Mr. Theroux's train-journeys. It is a collection of short pieces by Richard Brautigan, an American from the West who travels further west, to the East (Mr. Theroux is the other way round). Mr. Brautigan is laid-back and mellow and appears to be into Zen. His taste for the inconsequential is highly developed. On three occasions in this book he observes commercial buildings by night: a carpet shop has on a neon light when it is closed; a light is on in a restaurant which will not open for months; a funeral parlor doesn't have its lights on. On each occasion Mr. Brautigan is amazed. He writes very well about chickens."

Kline, Betsy. "Peripatetic Prophet: 'Express' Takes Readers on Journey That Rambles Through Author's Mind." Kansas City Star, 21 Dec. 1980, pp. 1, 12D.
Says, "[Brautigan's] prose is like a fishing expedition. Bobbing amid the vignettes of his tranquil life are some prize catches of life frozen in time. . . . [T]he reader ends the expedition feeling content but unlucky: happy for the catches and wondering wistfully about the ones that got away." READ this review.

Kline also wrote a companion piece to this review based on one of Brautigan's promotional interviews for The Tokyo-Montana Express. READ this review.

Locklin, Gerald. "Life through Child's Eyes." Independent Press-Telegram [Long Beach, CA], 1 Oct. 1978, p. L/S 3.
Says, "I'm more than willing to put up with his misses for the sake of his connections with the Zen-Dada screwball that no one else would even have realized had been tossed." READ this review.

Mason, Michael. "The Pancakes and the President." The Times Literary Supplement [London], 1 May 1981, p. 483.
Says that two prominent features about Brautigan, which may be considered irritating, are that he is laconic and interested in a restricted range of experience: low-key, private sensations and ephemeral, minor constituents of the world.

"The Tokyo-Montana Express takes these tendencies as far as they have ever gone with the author. . . . Certain motifs establish themselves: animals, death, memories, dreams, snow and rain, food (and foodshops, restaurants, faces, cooking), empty or vanished buildings (especially shops)."

As for Brautigan's tendency to be laconic: "The abruptness of the telling is right." Says there are a few stories in the collection that bring the "narrow emphasis on certain kinds of experience" into play and in a "directly challenging fashion put the contrast between the small, transient and private, and what we normally regard as portentous and communally interesting." Food is often the key notion. READ this review.

McCaffrey, Larry. "Keeping Track of Life." The San Diego Union, 2 Nov. 1980, Book Section, p. 5.
Says, "[W]hen Brautigan is at his best, his book is home-folks wise. During these moments, we see the world as Brautigan does—a place so special, so magical that the most trivial, commonplace aspects of life shimmer with meaning and incandescence."

The full text of this review reads. "As is true of all his previous books. there is something galling about Richard Brautigan's latest work, 'The Tokyo-Montana Express'—his flagrant, unembarrassed display of his own sensibilities, his refusal to elevate the consequential aspects of human experience above the trivial or ordinary aspects, his willingness to answer 'just because' to difficult questions.

"Yet, there are moments in all of Brautigan's works, this latest book included, when his semimystical vision of things is so clear, so entertaining and so passionate that a critical, analytic response makes you feel like a chaperone checking the prom punch for vodka—you may be right, but you're a killjoy.

"The book is a collection of rapid-fire vignettes, personal anecdotes, essays and short stories (classifications are rather difficult with Brautigan, and, finally, beside the point). Packed within its 258 pages are 131 glimpses into the infinite variety of human activities: a priest looking for a parking spot, a Czechoslovakian immigrant searching for America's Golden Dream, a Texas businessman toasting a ghost who comforted him as a boy, an Indian woman searching for a tire chain along a New Mexico highway. Intermingled with this amorphous crowd is the figure of Brautigan himself photographing old Christmas trees, throwing corn to chickens and buying light bulbs.

"The Tokyo-Montana Express of the title is, according to the author, a train that travels from Montana to Japan with sidetracks into New Mexico and California, and each of the individual sections of the novel is a stop along the way. As readers, we are passengers on the train glimpsing through the windows the small and large dramas of everyday life. If one stop leaves us dissatisfied, no matter, for Brautigan's express quickly carries us to yet another scene.

"This is an entertaining book that is often funny and often sad; when Brautigan is at his best, his book is home-folks wise. During these moments, we see the world as Brautigan does—a place so special, so magical that the most trivial, commonplace aspects of life shimmer with meaning and incandescence."

Reprinted

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 42. Eds. Daniel G. Marowski and Roger Matuz. Gale Research Company, 1980. pp. 48-66.

McEnroe, Colin. "Brain Candy for Literary Sweet Tooth." Hartford Courant, 19 Oct. 1980, p. G8.
Reviews Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins and The Tokyo-Montana Express by Brautigan, both unfavorably. "Brautigan's collection of pointless vignettes . . . represents some of the most . . . half-hearted drivel . . . bound between hard covers." READ this review.

Mellors, John. "Trick or Treat?" The Listener [London], 14 May 1981, p. 652.
Reviews Burnt Water by Carlos Fuentes, The China Egg by Gillian Tindall, White Lies by Sean Virgo, Murdo by Iain Crichton Smith, Ellis Island by Mark Helprin, 14 Stories by Stephen Dixon, Children of Lir by Desmond Hogan, and The Tokyo-Montana Express by Brautigan.

Says, of Brautigan, "Richard Brautigan produces verbal doodles rather than short stories, and many readers will surely agree with the narrator-author when he says that his mind "is changing into a cranial junkyard". What is the explanation for the Brautigan cult?

"Perhaps there is a clue right at the beginning of The Tokyo-Montana Express: "Often, cloaked like trick or treaters in the casual disguises of philosophical gossip, we wonder about the ultimate meaning of a man's life". He seems to be promising the profundity of a Bertrand Russell translated into the easy-to-read chit-chat of a Nigel Dempster. Trick? Or treat?"

Milazzo, Lee. "Journey into the Fantastic." Dallas Morning News, 23 Nov. 1980, p. 4G.
Reviews Ray by Barry Hannah and The Tokyo-Montana Express by Brautigan. "Is Brautigan putting us on? Is he serious? We're not sure what it all adds up to, but it does mean fun reading—sometimes."

The full text of this review reads, "Richard Brautigan has also enjoyed considerable critical success, especially for such works as Trout Fishing in America, The Hawkline Monster and Dreaming of Babylon, among others. Each of his 19 books, in fact, has revealed Brautigan's admirable ability to match his very personal style to his varied subjects.

"The Tokyo-Montana Express is an excellent example of Brautigan's art of reduction. Countless brief vignettes—some 'chapters' are only a few sentences in length—alternately present Brautigan's perceptions of Japan and Montana. He covers a wide variety of subjects, and clearly one of his themes is the striking contrast between the two cultures. Another theme, too, seems to be Brautigan's nostalgic feeling for our own partially unsullied West.

"Then we encounter this chapter, 'Cold Kingdom Enterprise?,' which we quote in full: 'Once upon a time there was a dwarf knight who only had fifty words to live in and they were so fleeting that he only had time to put on a suit of armor and ride swiftly on a black horse into a very well-lit woods where he vanished forever.'

"Is Brautigan putting us on? Is he serious? We are not sure what it all adds up to, but it does mean fun reading—sometimes."

Mitgang, Herbert. "Home on the Range." The New York Times Book Review, 26 Oct. 1980, Sec. 7, p. 59.
Reviews Abraham Lincoln and the Union by Oscar and Lilian Handlin, The Living Land of Lincoln by Thomas Fleming, The Face of Lincoln compiled and edited by James Mellon, Mathematics and Humor by John Allen, and The Tokyo-Montana Express by Brautigan. Quotes from a telephone interview with Brautigan where Brautigan explains something of what he is trying to say in The Tokyo-Montana Express.

"What Richard Brautigan is trying to say is not exactly spelled out in the titles of his books: Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General From Big Sur, or, his latest, The Tokyo-Montana Express, published by Seymour Lawrence/Delacorte Press this week. Could the author of that title be kidding?

"Speaking on the telephone from his small ranch near Livingston, Montana (pop. 7,000), some 40 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, Mr. Brautigan made it all reasonably clear.

"'I live in Montana and I'm frequently in Tokyo and in San Francisco. One day I'm here, the next day I'm there. The novel is arranged like a train trip. There are stops along the way, and the 'I' in the story is the voice of the stations along the tracks of the Tokyo-Montana Express. Each chapter is separated by a photo of a medallion of the last coal-burning train that I saw in the transportation museum in Tokyo. I get a lot of my work done at the ranch. There's isolation here, a beautiful relationship to the fierce, stark, hugeness of the land. And I find a kinship between Montana and Japan; the people are dynamic in both places.'

"What about those offbeat titles? Mr. Brautigan said he invents them because they're interesting to him, which is reason enough if your novels attract an underground audience.

"'I started out writing poetry for eight years. I felt that until I could write a sentence, I couldn't write a novel. Then I began writing novels. Trout Fishing went through 15 drafts, and this novel took three years. I write quickly, but think about things for about 20 years. Now, at 45, I feel that I'm maturing and weathering. The weather is very nice in Montana.'"

Pintarich, Paul. "Brautigan's Talents Lost in Gimmickry." Oregonian, 26 Oct. 1980, p. C4.
Says, "Brautigan seems to have become a bulletin board whose personal advertisements for his own cleverness obscure the fact he has any talent at all. This is unfortunate . . . for devoted fans . . . initiates . . . and for Brautigan himself, who should know the time for gimmickry is over." READ this review.

Ponicsan, Darryl. "Brautigan Engineers a Train of Uncoupled Empty Thoughts." Los Angeles Times Book Review, 9 Nov. 1980, p. 1.
Says, "The best that can be said for these wee snippets is that they are harmless and inoffensive, occasionally even cute. . . . [T]he worst [is that they] are probably too lightweight to register on even the most aerated of consciousnesses." READ this review.

Reprinted

"'Tokyo-Montana' Line Runs on Uncoupled Ideas." Oregonian, 16 Nov. 1980, p. C4.

Rimer, Thomas. "A Ride on Brautigan's Very Remarkable Train." St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 13-14 Dec. 1980, p. 20A.
Says Brautigan, in The Tokyo-Montana Express, is "as sly, and as genuine as ever" even though the book seems more subdued than some of his earlier efforts. This may be because of Brautigan's trip to Japan or what Brautigan describes as "middle age." READ this review.

Sage, Lorna. "Travelling Light." The Observer [London], 19 Apr. 1981, p. 32.
Says, "This is a parody travel-book—the whole point about Richard Brautigan being that in most important senses he hasn't moved at all since Trout Fishing in America in the 1960s. As a student of space, he's terrific on time, an expert in the art of sitting still, and this collection of pieces is a loving, if slightly dismayed tribute to the places he has sat in over the past 10 years or so." READ this review.

Sinclair, Andrew. "Fiction." The Times [London], 9 Apr. 1981, p. 12.
Reviews The Turn-around by Vladimir Volkoff, Goebbels and Gladys by Keith Colquhon, Tit for Tat by Verity Bargate, and The Tokyo-Montana Express by Brautigan.

Says, of Brautigan, "Of the flower children of yesteryear, Richard Brautigan published the most original fables and the straightest prose. There seemed more than Gertrude Stein or Saroyan in him. There was a searching for contemporary myths and feelings as intense as in a haiku. The Tokyo-Montana Express has come off the rails. It is the diary and jottings of an uncoupled mind. More like pot pourri now, Mr. Brautigan gives off a faint and disordered smell of the writer he was. "I think my mind is going," he observes of himself. "It is changing into a cranial junkyard." He is too talented not to try to put his head together again."

Skorupa, Joseph. "Brautigan, Richard." Best Sellers, Dec. 1980, p. 309.
Calls The Tokyo-Montana Express a "scrapbook of odd ramblings beset with nearly as many problems as that of Amtrak," a book of "unsubstantantive prose ditties."

The full text of this review reads, "'Though the Tokyo-Montana Express moves at a great speed, there are many stops along the way. This book is those brief stations.' So begins Richard Brautigan's scrapbook of odd ramblings beset with nearly as many problems as that of Amtrak.

"Contrary to its claims this book of unsubstantantive prose ditties is less like a speedy express that it is a sluggish old steam locomotive chugging its way up the Matterhorn. No fan of strong narrative, identifiable characters, or developing story-line, the author relies on his writer's instinct for mining the collective unconscious for a seemingly random variety of topics. The problem with this approach is that without structure Brautigan's menagerie of diary-like miniatures is often digressive, self-indulgent and ultimately as tedious as a coach car ride through the Siberian Steppes.

"It would be inaccurate to say that Brautigan cannot write. His clean, spare style often sparkles with the imagination, wit and sophistication of a skilled wordsmith. For his 131 anecdotes he has created some of the most provocative titles in literature: 'The Irrevocable Sadness of Her Thank You,' 'One Arm Burning in Tokyo,' 'Skylab at the Graves of Abbott and Costello,' 'and Montana School Gone to the Milky Way.'

"His greatest problem is subject matter. The more a reader identifies with the subject of his mini-essays the better he or she will enjoy them, but why waste writing talent and reading time on umbrellas, spiders, spaghetti, rubber bands, light bulbs, sunflower seeds, snake dung, and an entire paragraph of 'Thank yous'?

"The Tokyo-Montana Express is an idiosyncratic hodgepodge that reveals Brautigan to be an uncompelling eccentric personality. It derails the reader's interest right after the first station stop."

Story, Jack Trevor. "Cult Express." Punch, 29 Apr. 1981, pp. 679-680.
Says, "The Tokyo-Montana Express is Richard Brautigan's allegorical train journey into his own soul or bowels. . . . [It] holds lots of common-sense, some good ideas for stories (which he himself can't be bothered to write), some neat insights and observations." READ this review.

Stuewe, Paul. "The Joys of Jersey and Battlefield Notes from the Cola War." Quill & Quire, Mar. 1981, p. 62.
The full text of this review reads, "A grabbag of unconnected prose fragments masquerading as a novel, occasionally enlivened by whimsy but otherwise flattened by the author's inability to follow a train of thought for more than a few pages. This is the fictional version of the 'non-book,' its only reason for existing being the need to rush a new Brautigan onto the shelves, and no one else would have been able to get it published. Embarrassing."

Swigart, Rob. "Still Life with Woodpecker, The Tokyo-Montana Express." The American Book Review, 3 Mar. 1981, pp. 14-15.
Reviews both Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins and The Tokyo-Montana Express by Brautigan. Says both suggest the notion that the "very good" and the "very bad" are very close together and some writers, like bullfighters, "work close to that line . . .. Too close, and it's very bad—gored by the horns of sheer tastelessness. Just close enough and its truly sublime." READ this review.

Taylor, David M. "Richard Brautigan." Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1980. Eds. Karen L. Rood, Jean W. Ross, and Richard Ziegfeld. Gale Research Co., 1981, pp. 18-21.
Reviews both June 30th, June 30th and The Tokyo-Montana Express. Calls the later, "a pastiche of . . . entries, several previously published, set primarily in Tokyo, Montana, and San Francisco. The entries, unrelated by plot, are held together tenuously by the metaphor of the train" (19).

Concludes saying "Popularly identified as a chronicler of the youth movement of the 1960s, Brautigan displays in his recent work a sense of displacement and a longing for halcyon days." READ this review.

Thomson, Robert. "Brautigan's Express Trip Past 130 Stops." Oakland Tribune, 11 Jan. 1981, Calendar Section, p. I-10.
Says, "Through the . . . stops . . . we become aware of ourselves as life-travelers. The passenger disembarks, not with the travelogue reader's well-developed remembrances of places and names, but rather with a new taste for life's adventure and a fear that we can't really control the speed and path of our own express train." READ this review.

Weinberger, Andy. "Fiction." Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 9 Nov. 1980, p. F5.
An unfavorable review. "[T]he The Tokyo-Montana Express goes nowhere. And the sooner it does, the better."

The full text of this review reads, "Richard Brautigan has been making a tidy living for a long time now by writing cute little enigmatic books that are all about: . . . well, it's never quite clear what they're all about, is it? Books of poetry, books of prose—books with charming, nonsensical titles (some would call them idiotic if the author weren't such a cult figure), things like A Confederate General from Big Sur, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel, and now, another, The Tokyo-Montana Express.

"The 131 fragmentary essays contained herein meander over a whole universe of topics, each of them as detached from the rest as a yogi in Red Square. There is his inconclusive tale about the smallest snowstorm on record (two flakes, which, according to Brautigan, resemble Laurel and Hardy). There is one about riding around Tokyo in a taxi filled with pictures of carp. There is the yarn about how nice it is to have breakfast in Beirut. And let us not forget the fat girl with no front teeth and the porno movie house that vanished into thin air. Pretty cryptic, huh?

"A word or two about style is also in order. Brautigan's is slow and simple. There is no need to think about what he is saying, really, at least not until you stumble on one of his metaphors. Metaphors are like paper bags to Brautigan. He has a terrible time finding his way out: 'I feel very dull like a rusty knife in the kitchen of a weed dominated monastery that was abandoned because everybody was too bored to say their prayers anymore, so they went someplace else 200 years ago and started different lives that led them all to the grave, anyway, a place where we all are going.'

"Reading The Tokyo-Montana Express it is very difficult to believe that the author was not stoned at the time he sat down in front of the typewriter. His mind hops aimlessly about like a bee in a room full of plastic flowers. Everywhere he alights he comes away empty. Somebody cares for this kind of exercise, apparently. Or perhaps people just feel better knowing there are others out there more confused than they are. As far as this reviewer is concerned, however, The Tokyo-Montana Express goes nowhere. And the soon it does, the better."

Witosky, Diane. "Riding the Rails with Brautigan." Des Moines Sunday Register, 28 Dec. 1980, p. 5C.
Says, "[A] train trip through life . . . [that] takes the reader on a thoughtful, thought-provoking trip." READ this review.

Yourgrau, Barry. "An Uneasy Middle-Aged Soul." The New York Times Book Review, 2 Nov. 1980, Sec. 7, p. 13.
Admits to never being a Brautigan fan, and to being exasperated by his indirectness. Says a number of the entires in The Tokyo-Montana Express seem "falsely promoted" from Brautigan's notebooks only to make the book fatter on the shelf. READ this review.

Reprinted

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 42. Eds. Daniel G. Marowski and Roger Matuz. Gale Research Company, 1980, pp.48-66.

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