Brautigan > Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel
This node of the American Dust website (formerly Brautigan Bibliography and Archive) provides comprehensive information about Richard Brautigan's novel Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel. Published in 1976, this was Brautigan's seventh published novel. Publication and background information is provided, along with reviews, many with full text. Use the menu tabs below to learn more.
Publication information regarding the various editions in English of Richard Brautigan's Sombrero Fallout is presented below. Corrections and/or additions would be greatly appreciated.
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New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976
5.5" x 8.25"; 187 pages
First printing 1 September 1976
Hard Cover, with dust jacket
ISBN 10: 0671223313
ISBN 13: 9780671223311
Light rose paper covered boards; Deep rose embossed titles on front cover and spine; Rose end papers
Front dust jacket color illustration by John Ansado of a Japanese woman.
Back dust jacket photograph by John Fryer of Brautigan sitting on a rock. This was one of several photographs taken of Brautigan by Fryer, at Brautigan's Montana ranch, in 1974, to capture an image for use on Brautigan's then forthcoming novel The Hawkline Monster.
Price of $6,95 along bottom of front jacket flap.
Proofs (86 pages) in printed yellow wrappers
Uncorrected proofs in tall, "pad-bound" format reported, with title written on spine.
First UK Edition, Jonathan Cape
31 March 1977
New York: Simon and Schuster
Hard Cover, with dust jacket
ISBN 10: 0224013718
ISBN 13: 9780224013710
Green boards with Erik Weber photograph of Mia Hara on front of dust jacket.
New York: Touchstone/Simon and Schuster
187 pages; First printing 15 January 1976
Trade paperback: 5.25 x 8 inches
ISBN 10: 0671230255
ISBN 13: 9780671230258
Front dust jacket color illustration by John Ansado of a Japanese woman
3 November 1978
Printed wrappers: 187 pages
ISBN 10: 0330255487
ISBN 13: 9780330255486
Photograph of the first UK edition sitting on a table with a lily.
London: Arena/Arrow Books
187 pages: 194mm x 124mm
ISBN 13: 9780099391104
Green cover with black printing of author's name and title. Between these is an illustration of a man looking at a sombrero laying of the ground. Top of the cover reads 'A master of American black absurdism' FINANCIAL TIMES.
London: Rebel, Inc.
ISBN 10: 0862418011
ISBN 13: 9780862418014
Victor Albrow photograph of one half of a mans face with semi-transparent yellow rectangles containing the title and author's name printed in black, /p>
A16.6.1 - 1st printing, 1997
A16.6.2 - 2nd printing, 1998
in 2nd printing cover, the photograph is restricted to just an eye and semi-transparent yellow rectangles contain the title and author's name printed in black,
London: Rebel, Inc.
ISBN 10: 1841951374
ISBN 13: 9781841951379
7.8 x 5.1 inches
Introduction by Kevin Williamson
Blue sky with whie closd and a sombrero. White text is printed in a black circle.
London: Canongate Canons
ISBN 13: 97808578622648
224 pages. 196 x 120 mm
Introduction by Jarvis Cooper
White cover with the author's name in black. A red circle appears with the book title and information about the introduction in whte printing. An piece of origami sits below the red circle. /p>
A16.8.1 - 1st printing, 2012
A16.8.2 - 2nd printing, 2014
2nd printiing was a reissue to mark the 30th anniversary of Brautigan's death. In 2nd printing cover is blue/green with the author's name and book title printing in white. Between them reads "'An absolute original' GUARDIAN. above them is a yellow circular placemat holding a tea cup and saucer.
First published in 1976, Sombrero Fallout was Richard Brautigan's seventh published novel and the third to parody a literary genre. Subtitled "A Japanese Novel," it featured two interrelated stories. The first was about a sombrero falling from the sky and its affect on humanity. In the second story, the narrator of the first thinks about his Japanese ex-lover who had recently moved out of his apartment.
This novel is for Junichiro Tanizaki who wrote The Key and
Diary of a Mad Old Man
Tanizaki Junichiro (1886-1965) was a Japanese novelist.
This tab presents the titles of the 85 chapters of Sombrero Fallout.
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Reviews for Sombrero Fallout are detailed below. See also reviews of Brautigan's collected works for commentary about Brautigan's work and his place in American literature.
By default all items are presented in ascending order. Use the checkboxes above to present the items in alphabetical and/or reverse order.
Anonymous. "Brautigan, Richard." Kirkus Reviews, 15 July 1976, p. 805.
The full text of this review reads, "'There's more to life than meets the eye.' In books. Some books. Brautigan's books? which aren't really books—just whimsical annotations in the form of vignettelets. This one, subtitled "A Japanese Novel" and dedicated to Tanizaki isn't really very willow-patterned. It's about an American humorist, "dashing tears forth" after his pretty Japanese lover of two years, a pyschiatrist, leaves him and he's left alone—tearing up pieces of paper and dropping them in a wastebasket where they look like origami or vacillating between a hamburger and a tuna fish sandwich. Outside in San Francisco, however, all hell breaks loose in the form of a disorderly riot with national repercussions. Oh yes, that sombrero, size 71/4—it drops to earth in the first paragraph. Is it your size? after all Brautigan hasn't really changed his since the first novel or two. This is a just a little book with the pretty phrases and the pieces of paper—they're either in your hand on down there. Mostly it's just a kind of sentimental seppuku [ritual Japanese suicide] for those that are still around."
Bannon, Barbara A. "Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel." Publishers Weekly, vol. 210, issue 4, 26 July 1976, p. 68.
The full text of this review reads, "In San Francisco late one evening an American humorist sits at his typewriter composing a fable: 'A sombrero fell out of the sky and landed on the Main Street of town in front of the mayor, his cousin and a person out of work. . . .' Temporarily blocked, the humorist discards page one. Then he moons about his apartment bemoaning the end of his two-year love affair witih a Japanese woman. Meanwhile, in the wastebasket, the fable takes on a spontaneous life of its own and escalates into an epic of American machismo. The page-one characters argue about who will pick up the sombrero, townspeople join the dispute, local police arrive, followed by state police. A riot develops, and eventually the U.S. Air Force is bombing the town. The riot fizzles out; the humorist switches his talents to composing a country-western song about his 'little lady from Japan.' An amusing trifle for Brautigan fans."
Anonymous. "Brautigan, Richard." The Booklist, 15 Sept. 1976, p. 120.
The full text of this review reads, "Absurdity plays against pathos to the chunky rhythm of blunt, declarative sentences. A riot scene mushrooming from a dropped sombrero alternates with memories of the hero's failed love affair. His Japanese lover's dreams provide frequent pace-changing interludes; Norman Mailer's appearance at the riot adds a touch of understated humor. Brief, ingenuous, the novel seems to follow Brautigan's eccentric muse wherever she leads, with little show of resistance."
Lingeman, Richard R. "Getting a Fix on Fall Books." New York Times Book Review, 29 Aug. 1976, Sec. 7, pp. 6-7.
Anticipates the fall publication of new books from several American novelists. Concludes with a brief reference to Brautigan's novel Sombrero Fallout.
The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads, "We can definitely report that the title of Richard Brautigan's new novel is Sombrero Fallout. Groovy. Otherwise, a season that numbers among its authors Solzhenitsyn, Bellow, Mailer, Arnold Toynbee, Erich Fromm, Norman Vincent Peale and Liberace can't be all bad, can it?"
Clay, Carolyn. "Stetson Stunts." Boston Phoenix, 21 Sep. 1976, p. 15, 23.
"Beneath the golden arches of Richard Brautigan's imagination, Mark Twain and Tim Leary might meet for a burger. . . . . Sombrero Fallout has a plethora of bizarre, precious imagery that delights the stoned." READ this review.
Daum, Timothy. "Brautigan, Richard." Library Journal, vol. 101, no. 17, 1 Oct. 1976, p. 2084.
The full text of this review reads, "Only Brautigan could squeeze 2.5 plots into so little space, call the concoction a novel, and still maintain the bittersweet insanity that has marked his work from the very beginning. Try, for instance, in your head to intertwine these stories: one hour in the life of an American humorist who is mourning having been left by his Japanese girlfriend; include in this story scenes of his meeting her for the first time, various images of her now making love with other men, and the excruciating impact of finding one of her hairs in his apartment. Add a sombrero which falls from the sky, has a temperature of 24 degrees below zero, and is the cause of an entire town going berserk and battling it out with U.S. troops. This turns out to be the story the American humorist is writing at the time. Add further: the Japanese girl, asleep in bed, and her cat, who gets hungry. It may be Brautigan's shortest novel, but there isn't a page that won't make you scratch your head, smile, or want to start it all over again."
Also reviews Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork in an earlier issue of Library Journal.
The Library Journal Book Review 1976. Edited by Janet Fletcher. R.R. Bowker Company, 1977, p. 619.
Christgau, Robert. "A Frigid Hat, A Dead Architect and Two Smart Dicks: Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel." The New York Times Book Review, 10 Oct. 1976, Sec. 7, p. 4.
Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 9. Edited by Dedria Bryfonski. Gale Research Company, 1978, pp. 123-25.
Edwards, Thomas R. "Books in Brief: Five Novels." Harper's, Oct. 1976, pp. 100-101.
Reviews Bear by Marian Engel, The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, Flight to Canada by Ishmael Reed, The Widow's Children by *** Fox, and Sombrero Fallout by Brautigan.
The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads, "In Richard Brautigan's Sombrero Fallout, "a very well-known American humorist" tries to write about a small town's eruption into bloody riot when a weird hat falls from the sky. Then the story is discarded (it, however, keeps writing itself in the wastebasket) as he turns to tender reminiscences of his lost Japanese girlfriend and anxieties about food and literary reputation. As a Barthelme-like exercise in discontinuous modes, lyrical, topical, and confessional, the book is amusing but somehow self-cancelling. The parable about mindless public violence is too harmlessly droll, the love story too sentimental, the portrait of the artist too routinely self-loathing. Remembering Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America, I would be glad to like Sombrero Fallout better, but his charm seems to be increasingly calculated."
Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 12. Edited by Dedria Bryfonski. Gale Research Company, 1980, pp. 57-74.
Adams, Phoebe-Lou. "Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan." Atlantic, Nov. 1976. p. 118.
The full text of this review reads, "Mr. Brautigan's novel proceeds on two levels. On one, a neurotic comic novelist mopes over his Japanese mistress, who has left him because "the upkeep was too complicated." On the other, the scraps in the wastebasket compose their own bloody fantasy. The meaning of all this is oblique and the style is relentlessly clever. As the author himself points out, "After a while non-stop brilliance has the same effect as non-stop boredom." Reckless of him."
Shapiro, Laura. "Atwood, Brautigan, and Reunions." Mother Jones, vol. 1, no. 9, Dec. 1976, pp. 62-63.
The full text of this review reads, "It's hard to put down a Brautigan book, although you might just as well. The easy rhythm of his semantics, the gentle surprises in the imagery bounce like a Scott Joplin rag; every new change in the syncopation pushes you on for a few more sentences.
"The pleasure of reading him is much more physical than it is mental; indeed, if you tend to get bored after the first few tricks by a trained typewriter, the pleasure isn't mental at all. Much of Brautigan's wit would disintegrate if he put his sentences together into paragraphs, instead of arranging them one by one on their own for maximum ironic impact.
"Sombrero Fallout has its addictive qualities—suspense is not one of them, but the agreeable pressure of mild curiosity nudges us along. How can a cold sombrero cause a national disaster? How can a sleeping woman cause a man so much torment? The slow build-up is very pleasant, but the book's bloody climax arrives a bit rudely—too garish and outrageous for the simple energies preceding it.
"All the same, Brautigan's agile sensibility looks more useful and comfortable with every passing year."
Casey, Charles. "A Zany, Three-Stage Plot Under One Sombrero." St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 16 Jan. 1977, p. 4B.
The full text of this review reads, "This novel, which was published simultaneously in Japan and America, offers more than the traditional Brautigan entertainment. It offers a glimpse of the author as well.
"Sombrero Fallout has three storylines, only two of which appear to be related. Brautigan fans will immediately sense a change in this novel, while the author often experiments with two or more plots, he generally brings them together at the end, something he fails to do here.
"One plot revolves around an ice-cold sombrero that falls from the sky into a dusty street in a small Southwestern town. Somehow, this hat becomes the center of a riot that leads bloodthirsty citizens to kill police and eventually tangle with the U.S. Army.
"Meanwhile, other chapters collated into this interesting sequence describe the lovesick yearnings of a famous American humor writer who actually has no sense of humor. Most likely this humorless humor writer is none other than Richard Brautigan. His descriptions are so zanily true to life they appear to be fresh memories.
"Our author is bemoaning the loss of his romantic interest of two years, a Japanese woman whose actions, or rather non-actions, can be viewed as the third storyline. While the writer's mind is tumbling through chapters of jealous fantasies and cravings for, among other things, a tuna fish sandwich, the object of his yearning is sleeping and dreaming. Perhaps the sombrero symbolizes this person who has unwittingly become the focus for a kaleidoscope of emotions.
"We learn that she is a psychiatric worker in a San Francisco hospital. We are surprised to find that she meets her biggest basket case after work—none other than that same American humor writer who now spends his evenings longing for her.
"Whether or not Brautigan has projected himself into this novel, he has written another delightful book. The style of short chapters and glowing humor is typical of a Brautigan novel; its touchingly funny moments and its interesting experimentation make it one of his best."
Anonymous. "Brautigan, Richard." Choice, Jan. 1977, p. 1433.
The full text of this review reads, "Brautigan is a sort of last gasp of the Beat Generation who has managed to adapt himself to changing literary tastes and pose as one of the masked men of experimental writing. His virtues are a poetic imagination that is often sheerly stunning in its casual connections, and a whimsical offhandedness in dealing with heartache that is, quite probably, distinctively Californian. His latest novel: a "surface" novelistic predicament, involving a lovelorn humor writer without a sense of humor, gives birth to a subplot involving a large-scale explosion of violence in a small American town; reading the second plot as outcome of the first provides a sort of critical rationale. The heroine of this "Japanese novel" (it is being simultaneously published in Japan, for reasons not likely exceeding the superficial) is the writer's former lover, and she sleeps her way through this short fiction like one of Kawabata's sleeping beauties. Easy and enjoyable reading.
Bednarczyk, A. "Brautigan, Richard." Best Sellers, no. 36, Jan. 1977, p. 315.
The full text of this review reads, "If Richard Brautigan's works are, as I have been led to believe, representative of what constitutes contemporary popular fiction, I can only say that, judging by his latest novel, the mentality of the general reading public is at a disturbingly juvenile level. Light reading is one thing, but this newest effort might be better described as light-headed reading.
"Basically (and I mean that in its most literal sense), the plot follows three distinct yet communal lines. The main character is a very successful but nameless American humorist whose overriding personality trait is an almost neurotic lack of humor. He has just lost his Japanese lover, Yukiko, and a great deal of time and space is devoted to one night of turmoil over this loss. His anguish exhibits itself in sundry macabre ways, including anxious decisions about tuna fish sandwiches, soul searching questions about the lack of eggs in the house, and a brutally frantic search for a lost strand of Yukiko's hair. Along with this, Brautigan details Yukiko's dream life accompannied by a motorized soundtrack, courtesy of her cat, as the Japanese girl contentedly sleeps away the night at the same time her ex is having his emotional breakdown. Simultaneously, there is also the unbelievable account of a town which turns into a raging war machine dedicated to doing battle with the United States as a result of the appearance of a black sombrero with the unusual property of a 24 degree below zero internal temperature. Sounds confusing? Actually it isn't. The three story lines are kept quite separate throughout and even if they weren't, the language is so "Dick and Jane"-ish that a 5-year-old could not possibly get lost.
"That's the problem with Sombrero Fallout. It is so simple that it approaches infantilism. There is neither imagination in the words nor coherence in the story. It is a loosely connnected string of impressions and information each accorded its own chapter—sometimes not even using a full page. If for no other reason, the novel should be criticized as a disgraceful waste of paper and space. But that unfortunately is the least of what's wrong. The book has no reason for being nor, overlooking that, no interest to sustain its tenuous existence.
"Sombrero Fallout is subtitled 'A Japanese Novel,' and the dust cover announces that it is also being published in Japan. There is a certain rhythm in the structure and phrasing which does not quite flow in English. Perhaps it will read better in the language of the Rising Sun."
Beaver, Harold. "Dead Pan Alley." The Times Literary Supplement, no. 3916 [London], 1 Apr. 1977, p. 392.
Ackroyd, Peter. Spectator, vol. 238, no. 7761, 2 Apr. 1977, p. 27-28.
Multiple reviews. Of Brautigan, Ackroyd says, "There is one catchpenny formula which never fails to stagger American writers: as someone puts it in Richard Brautigan's new novel, 'Motto: there's more to life than meets the eye.' Or, in other words, let's imagine. What do cats dream about? What temperature is a sombrero? How large is an average-sized tuna fish sandwich? Why am I asking such dumb questions in the first place, when I'm trying to write a novel anyway? This is the whimsical and winsome tone which has captured a hundred bad New York poets; it storms through Donald Barthelme's work without success; it is quaint but effective in the novels of Brautigan. Or at least in this one: the two earlier, Hawkline Monster and Willard and His Bowling Trophies, drowned in their own inanition. But with Sombrero Fallout he is back on form.
"An American humorist of the tight-lipped school has been abandoned by his Japanese girl-friend and, in that rage which not even American humour can satisfy, he tears up a new story. Naturally enough for Brautigan, who specialises in shifting the improbable and evanescent boundaries of fiction, the story carries on writing itself. It tells itself about riots, Presidents, and sombreros which fall from the sky. Meanwhile the humorist is complaining in a stage-whisper, to nobody in particular, and his girl friend keeps on sleeping. These elaborate games of make-believe ought to be tiresome and old-fashioned by now, but Brautigan makes a habit of being readable. He also keeps his chapters short. This must be a deliberate ploy on his part since the flat tone, the deadpan manner, the enumeration of comic and not so comic particulars, would pall if delivered at length. As it is, Brautigan depends upon surprise and witty juxtaposition to make his points for him.
"Because he has no central theme to push his narrative into shape, he hunts out those little moods and tiny moments which pass by conventional novelists desperate in their search for a story. Such things as the truth of the emotions, the meaning of being and the being of meaning don't seem to bother Brautigan, and why should they? He's not about to change a winning formula. He has seen his future, and it works: 'He never lacked things to worry about. They followed him around like millions of trained white mice and he was their master. If he taught all his worries to sing, they would have made the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sound like a potato.' Who needs feelings when you can have style instead?
"Fred Uhlman is more cautious. Where Brautigan relies on montage and juxtaposition, Uhlman adopts the oldest trick of all—he tells a story. . ."
Brooks, Jeremy. "Eight of the Best." The Sunday Times [London], 3 April 1977, p. 40.
The full text of this review reads, "Richard Brautigan's latest surreal fantasy Sombrero Fallout scarcely qualifies as a novella, let alone as a novel. It has so much white paper unsullied by print among its pages that complex mathematical calculations were required to arrive at its true cost—an outrageous 11.6 per 1,000 words. In this book Mr. Brautigan flirts more dangerously than ever with that seductive siren, wry sentiment, a tone which assorts oddly with his sombre message about the mindless violence that lies dormant in any crowd, ready to be released by any such common event as a black sombrero falling from a clear sky. An expensive curate's egg for some, but a satisfying meal-in-itself, no doubt, for addicts."
Carr, Adam. "Mexican Hats Miss Their Mark." The Times [London], 30 May 1977, p. 19.
The full text of this review reads, "When I was young, Brautigan's books were somewhere between Borges and Hesse on the new-fangled rotating book-stand by the till on the way out of the English Lit department. The same principle is applied to racks of crisps and/or chewing gum in supermarkets.
"I had put down failure to succumb to these blandishments, in Brautigan's case, to a youthfully fastidious distaste for a man who allowed pictures of himself plus latest girlfriend to grace the covers of his books. I now think, after reading one, that a mysterious instinct for literary self-preservation may have been at work—now, sadly, atrophied by age—and over-exposure to rotating bookstands.
"What is Sombrero Fallout about? It may well be that it is about cold Mexican hats falling from the sky and the inexplicable reluctance of the natives to pick them up. Certainly this happens at the beginning of at least four chapters (2-3 pages with a lot of blank space either end). However, the significance of this motif is lost to me.
"Nevertheless the book is shot through—not to say down in flames—by a number of themes bordering on obsessions. Namely sex, and sex and Mr. Brautigan. The author's treatment of himself is too cringe-making to go into in much detail. There is a character modestly described as "a well-known American humourist" who "reaches into the typewriter as if he were an undertaker zipping up the fly of a dead man in his coffin".
"As to sex, if you're lucky without the participation of the well-known American humourist, I wondered whether my reaction of profound visceral loathing to these passages was peculiar to myself. So I read them to a roomful of young ladies. The appalled silence that greeted this catalogue of cliché-ridden, spine-chilling chauvinism exceeded all expectation. Worse still he writes with a botched pseudo-Hemigwayesque brevity complicated by a point-blank refusal to put words in sensible order. 'Revolutionary' according to his publisher—also absolutely infuriating."
Glendinning, Victoria. "Enter, Pursued by a Bear." The Observer, 3 Apr. 1977, p. 26.
Reviews Bear by Marian Engel, The Man from Next Door by Honor Tracy, The Little Medicine Bottle by Allan Turpin, Nobody's Fault by Mervyn Jones, Scawsby by John Drabble, and Sombrero Fallout by Brautigan.
The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads, "The central figure of Richard Brautigan's Sombrero Fallout is a humorist with no sense of humour who has been deserted by his Japanese girl-friend. He remembers their lovemaking, and mourns over one of her long black hairs. Crosscut with this, with deadpan surrealism, is the tale of a national holocaust which stemmed from a sombrero that fell from outer space in a small town; the humorist tore up the story when grief struck, but it goes on writing itself in the waste-paper basket. The chapters are very short. There are a lot of half-blank pages. It is most unsubstantial and equivocal, not really very funny, not really very sad. But Sombrero Fallout is subtitled "A Japanese Novel" and all the foregoing strictures could be made by the uninitiated about, say, a haiku. Some of Brautigan's novels have been marvellously inventive; but perhaps, like the hero of this book, he is not sure quite what it is that makes him laugh, or cry. On that basis, you can't win them all."
Howard, Phillip. "Fiction." The Times [London], 14 Apr. 1977, p. 12.
The full text of this review reads, "There is a grave embarras de choix in fiction this week, with too many good books competing for too little review space. Brautigan's new 'Japanese novel' is a brilliant, funny, and strange whimsy about a heartbroken American humourist with no sense of humour whose discarded short story about a sombrero takes on a life of its own. It is as clever and delicate as a masterpiece of origami."
Mount, Ferdinand. "The Novel of the Narcissus." Encounter, vol. 48, no. 6, June 1977, pp. 51-58.
Reviews I Would Have Saved Them if I Could by Leonard Michaels, Marry Me by John Updike, The Painter of Signs by R. K. Narayan, The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel García Márquez, The Lake by Yasunari Kawabata, The Bread of Those Early Years by Heinrich Böll, Peter Smart's Confessions by Paul Bailey, Kith by P. H. Newby, and Sombrero Fallout by Brautigan.
The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads, "American fiction specializes in the artistic arrangement of junk, often on a scale which recalls the Watts Towers in California. The humble artisan who built those fantastic towers out of old bits of tin cans and crockery is of course far removed in degree of awareness from the conscious literary artist. He celebrates the glory of creation by picking up the junk which others have dropped, for even the junk is part of that glory. The American literary artist is different. He picks it up because it is junk. He is a merchant of Dreck. He does not assert that the fragments are beautiful; on the contrary, he takes delight in asserting that they are Dreck, shit, crap. It is a key principle of modern American fiction that no lump of excrement is going to get away with pretending to be good rich earth. The principle may be directly expressed in excremental language as in Mailer or more obliquely as in the whimsical put-downs of Vonnegut and Brautigan. But it always manifests itself in a steady determination not to be enchanted by the appearances of the external world—objects, systems, peoples. This stance is not the same as the old European cults of nihilism, absurdism or even skepticism, for it implies no pessimistic overall world-view. The assertion that the world is full of shit excludes the observer himself. The cynicism about the external world contrasts with an unbounded sentimentalism about the inner world of the self. The novelist-hero is a rooster on a midden.
"Richard Brautigan's latest novel, Sombrero Fallout, is about an American humorist who is said to have no sense of humor. But of course he has a sense of humor. Look at his jokes. He is having trouble writing. But he isn't really having trouble. Look at his book. Even a piece of paper bearing an idea for a story which he tears up and throws on the floor takes on a life of its own. It is a story about a sombrero which causes a civil war. It is not a very good story. That doesn't matter. The American humorist can think of hundreds more stories in the same way that, although he has been left by his latest (Japanese) girlfriend, he can pick up hundreds more girlfriends just as he picked up her. In his junk-world, reality is conferred on objects, human and otherwise, only by the touch of the free-floating ego. Everything else is, as Gore Vidal puts it in his perceptive essay, "American plastic" (New York Review of Books, July 15, 1976). "The author tries not to be himself a maker of dreck but an arranger of dreck." And there is no higher compliment that one American modernist can pay another than to say, as William Gass says of Donald Barthelme, that he "has the art to make a treasure out of trash." All art, in Michael Moorcock's phrase, constantly aspires towards "the condition of Muzak"—or ought to."
Treglown, Jeremy. "Kithflicks." New Statesman, 8 Apr. 1977, p. 471.
Reviews Kith by P. H. Newby, The Painter of Signs by R. K. Narayan, Nobody's Fault by Mervyn Jones, and Sombrero Fallout by Brautigan.
The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads, "Knee-buckling oriental perfumes and the Eastern woman's natural grace and rhythm in general are big topics this week, though I found the breezy Aunt Nadia's [from Kith by P.H. Newby] attractions more convincing than those of Yukiko, the subject of Richard Brautigan's canton of contemned love. Sombrero Fallout offsets a love story almost medieval in its sentimental idolatry with a fantasy about a UFO—the sombrero of the title—that manages to produce a small civil war in ten easy stages. Brautigan's comic touch is predictably unerring and the hilarious narrative development is studded with wry surreal gags ("He never lacked things to worry about . . . If he taught all his worries to sing, they would have made the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sound like a potato.") The Yukiko bits, though, kept reminding me of that sticky moment in every variety show when the lights go pink and the compère flattens his hair, shoots his cuffs, slips the mike out of its stand and huskily lets rip on 'You Made Me Love You.'"
Anonymous. "Paperbacks: New and Noteworthy." The New York Times Book Review, 15 Jan. 1978, p. 27.
The full text of this review reads, "A writer who won considerable following in the 60's essays a "Japanese novel"—on one level the tale of a writer moping because his mistress has left him, on another, a fantasy told through scraps in his waste basket. Clever in spots, but—our reviewer wondered—is the clan still there?"
Stewart, Joan Hinde. "Sombrero Fallout, A Japanese Novel." Magill's Literary Annual. Edited by Frank N. Magill. Salem Press, 1978, p. 785.ISBN 10: 0893562785
ISBN 13: 9780893562786
Agosto, Marie-Christine. "Sombrero Fallout: Structure Narrative." Les Cahiers de Fontenay, no. 28.29, Dec. 1982, pp. 141-153
"This structural analysis of Richard Brautigan’s novel attempts to clarify the binary nature of the narrative, divided between a reflexive type of narration which focuses on the story of the humorist at work, and the adventures of the Mexican hat.
"The treatment of plot by techniques of montage and in network patterns, and the suppression of linearity predominate on the horizontal axis of composition. The vertical axis on the other hand, iterates the step-by-step investigation of the multiple aspects of reality.
"More than on major narrative divisions however, this article focuses on ruptures between narrative levels, the absence of causal connections, the simple juxtaposition of abortive acts and false starts which represent the essential and paradoxical form of narrative organization. It is the character of the narrator-teller which reveals most clearly the impossible quest for an origin in the puzzle of internal correspondences with a purely structural function, the image of a tragic worldview."
Cüpper, Mélanie. "Less Is More or Less: Richard Brautigan: Willard and His Bowling Trophies—A Perverse Mystery, Sombrero Fallout—A Japanese Novel." Bulletin de l'Association des Germanistes diplômés de l'Université de Liège, no. 15, Mar. 2003
A summary of Cüpper's longer study of Brautigan. READ this review.
Sarcandzieva, Rada. Precistvastijat Smjah Na Ricard Brotigan. Cudovisteto Hoklan; Edno Sombrero Pada Ot Nebeto. [The Purifying Laugh of Richard Brautigan in Monster and Sombrero.] Sofia: Narodna Kultura, n.d.
A review of Brautigan's The Hawkline Monster and Sombrero Fallout from a Bulgarian perspective.
This work has been translated into 12 different languages in at least 22 editions.
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AlbanianJeta e Re Revisitë Letrare, Nr. 2, 2017 [sombrero] [stories] [poems]
DutchDe ijskoude sombrero, 1978 [sombrero]
IcelandicHeljarslóðarhatturinn, 2005 [sombrero]
Japaneseソンブレロ落下す―ある日本小説, 1976 [sombrero]
Persianبارش کلاهمکزیکی,in 2015 [sombrero]
بارش کلاهمکزیکی,in 2017 [sombrero]
PolishUpadek sombrera. Powieść japońska, 1992 [sombrero]
RomanianCăderea unui sombrero, 2019 [sombrero]
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