Brautigan > Stories

This node of the American Dust website (formerly Brautigan Bibliography and Archive) provides comprehensive information about Richard Brautigan's stories. Brautigan published one collection of stories during his lifetime. Many more were published individually. Publication and background information is provided, along with reviews, many with full text. Use the menu tabs below to learn more.

Background

Richard Brautigan's stories are filled with metaphors and images that read more like poetry than fiction. Each is brief, bright, compact, creative. Many readers think Brautigan's best writing are his stories.

Brautigan published one collection of stories, Revenge of the Lawn. Brautigan also published many stories that were uncollected. Readers are rewarded for their efforts to seek them out.

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Story Title Index

This index provides an alphabetical listing of Richard Brautigan's known individual story titles. If you know the story title, select the first letter of the first word of its title. Exclude words like "A" and "The." If you do not know the story title, discover by browsing. Click any poem title for more information about that story.

Brautigan Stories Beginning with Numbers and/or Miscellaneous Characters

"1692 Cotton Mather Newsreel"
"1953 Chevrolet"
"1977 Television Screen, The"
"1/3, 1/3, 1/3"
"44:40"

Brautigan Stories Beginning with "K"

"Kyoto, Montana"

Brautigan Stories Beginning with "N"

"Need for Gardens, A"
"No Hunting Without Permission"

Brautigan Stories Beginning with "U"

"Umbrellas"
"Unlimited Supply of 35 Millimeter Film, An"

Brautigan Stories Beginning with "V"

"Very Good Dead Friends"
"View from the Dog Tower, The"

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Collected Stories

Richard Brautigan published one collection of sixty-two short stories, as Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970.

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Uncollected Stories

Richard Brautigan published many stories individually. They were never collected. Known examples are listed here, grouped by year of their first publication, first to last. First publication dates and publisher information are provided.

1975

A Gun for Big Fish

First Published
Esquire March 1975, pp. 70, 134.

1979

The Short Story

Why is a short story short?
     Ask that man sitting on a bench in the park, any park, but be prepared, for he might tell you a story longer than you would want to listen to.

First Published
"Four Stories for Aki and Other Treats." California Living 14 Jan. 1979, pp. 5-7.

Background
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 other five were all collected in The Tokyo-Montana Express. "Her Last Known Boyfriend" was retitled "Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman."

Walking Toward December

8 o'clock in the evening: I am walking down a street of closed shops and few people. It's Sunday, a day of rest. The shops are resting. People are in their homes waiting for Monday and work.
     It is late August but soon it will be December.
     The sun is going down.
     Another day is ending.
     They will keep ending just like this one until it is December.
     Why not December?
     And besides, haven't you heard yourself say, "It's almost Christmas? Where did the time go? I still haven't done all my shopping."
     It started with this August evening wondering what you're going to get Aunt Caroline who is so finicky and hard to please.

First Published
"Four Stories for Aki and Other Treats." California Living 14 Jan. 1979, pp. 5-7.

Background
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 other five were all collected in The Tokyo-Montana Express. "Her Last Known Boyfriend" was retitled "Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman."

1981

The Last of What's Left

The children gathered solemnly like shadows from the Bible to divide among themselves the last of what was left, which was barely nothing compared to what had once been, but it was more than being dead, so they had been taught for centuries.

They each took their portion which could only be counted with a microscope, and then went silently in different directions, never to see each other again.

There was no reason to.

They left behind an empty place where everything had once been.

First Published
"Three by Richard Brautigan." Corona, no. 2, 1981, pp. 12-14.
Featured three stories: "The Last of What's Left," "Closets," and "The Grasshopper's Mirror."

Background
Michael Sexson, editor of Corona notes,
I think we called them stories because Richard said so. They seem tiny short stories, but it would not be wrong to call them poems either. Notice that we evaded the issue in the text by calling it "Three by Richard Brautigan."
Michael Sexson. Email to John F. Barber, 18 February 2002.

Closets

I remember I once went through a period of counting closets in haunted houses. I was inbetween love affairs. I had no idea what would happen next with my heart or if anything would ever happen again, so I counted closets in haunted houses.

I was glad when it was over.

7,914,322 closets is too many, not to speak of walking up the stairs to each haunted house and slowly opening the front door.

First Published
"Three by Richard Brautigan." Corona, no. 2, 1981, pp. 12-14.
Featured three stories: "The Last of What's Left," "Closets," and "The Grasshopper's Mirror."

Background
Michael Sexson, editor of Corona notes,
I think we called them stories because Richard said so. They seem tiny short stories, but it would not be wrong to call them poems either. Notice that we evaded the issue in the text by calling it "Three by Richard Brautigan."
Michael Sexson. Email to John F. Barber, 18 February 2002.

The Grasshopper's Mirror

Yesterday I thought I saw my first grasshopper of summer, something moved grasshopperly in the grass, but I didn't actually see it. I saw something else, perhaps the wind or the ghost of a grasshopper, trying to remember last year when it was alive.

Today for certain the first grasshopper of summer jumped right onto the road in front of me. There was nothing haunted to its presence. It was just suddenly there.

I will be seeing grasshoppers for the next four months, on into October when the cold nights and snow will change it into what I thought was a grasshopper yesterday, a lingering uneasy gesture in the grass.

First Published
"Three by Richard Brautigan." Corona, no. 2, 1981, pp. 12-14.
Featured three stories: "The Last of What's Left," "Closets," and "The Grasshopper's Mirror."

Background
Michael Sexson, editor of Corona notes,
I think we called them stories because Richard said so. They seem tiny short stories, but it would not be wrong to call them poems either. Notice that we evaded the issue in the text by calling it "Three by Richard Brautigan."
Michael Sexson. Email to John F. Barber, 18 February 2002.

1984

The Lost Tree

There were a lot of things that we could have talked about. Last year we made love under a tree in the woods. There was a nice patch of soft, perfect for love-making grass under a tree. It was a hot afternoon and the tree lent our passion its shade.

This spring I've gone for some walks down in the woods but mysteriously I can't find that tree. Not that I've deliberately gone seeking it like a ghoul wanting to feast on the ghost of a dead passion. I just thought that somehow upon a spring walk, I must just come across that tree, but I haven't. I don't know what I would think if I were to find that tree. I know that I would not sit down underneath it or in the future bring another woman to that tree.

There were a lot of things that we could have talked about.

We walked back to the house in silence. I felt happy. I didn't know at that time that every step we took was a step toward walking out of each other's lives.

First Published
"Richard Brautigan: Tokyo and Montana." Friends of the Washington Review of the Arts, vol. 9, no. 5, Feb.-Mar. 1984, p. 9.
Featured this story, a poem titled "Night Flowing River," and a photograph of Brautigan by Toby Thompson.

Background
In July 1980, Brautigan visited Boulder, Colorado, where he was writer-in-residence at the University of Colorado Boulder. There he met Masako Kano. This poem is about a tree in Boulder, under which Brautigan and Kano had frequent sex.

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Unpublished Stories

Richard Brautigan wrote several stories that were never published. Known examples are listed here, grouped by year of their writing, first to last.

1963

The Haight-Asbury Crawdad

Fall 1963
Brautigan describes one of his favorite walks in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, saying "it's beautiful where Haight Street meets Stanyan Street at the Golden Gate Park. I like . . . to enjoy the last hour before sundown."

October 1963

Brautigan and his first wife, Virginia (Ginny) Dionne Alder, separated 24 December 1962, when he learned of Virginia's affair with his friend, Anthony (Tony) Frederic Aste. Virginia, and daughter, Ianthe, moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, with Aste. Early in October 1963, they returned to San Francisco. Brautigan wrote about the changes he saw in Ianthe in a series of unpublished stories. In one, "To Love a Child in California the Way Love Should Be," he writes about the heartache of having to leave after visiting with Ianthe for only one-half hour. Her crying, he wrote, followed him down the stairs as he walked away.

1968

An Apartment on Telegraph Hill

May 1968
The narrator (a thinly disguised Brautigan), a sculptor whose work "had long since ceased to yield any satisfaction" and who "had no interest in women except to get occasionally laid when I got bored with getting drunk and it took a really good woman to get me away from the bottle" dreamed of having "a girlfriend on Telegraph Hill" with a nice apartment. "Coming from a poor family, I've always been attracted to women above my station."

Key to the Frogs of South-Western Australia

A story about a writer who attempts to write a spontaneous novel, thinking to use "Key to the Frogs of South-Western Australia" as the title. Every time he starts, however, he remembers a short story by Wallace Stegner, "Field Guide to Western Birds," and its metaphors of observing and identifying life (outward endeavors) rather than writing (an inward endeavor), and stops. The title came from a book Brautigan purchased prior to starting this story.

1979

Walking Mushrooms, The Umbrella Photograph, Last Words about What Came and Went Yesterday

Three stories written in Japan during Brautigan's 1979 visit. "Last Words about What Came and Went Yesterday" concerns piles of shattered umbrellas following a typhoon.

1981

My Name Is Forgotten in the Grass

September 1981
A single paragraph story about Brautigan's feelings about his daughter Ianthe's wedding to Paul Swensen. "She is my only daughter, and the end of my family name. [. . .] My name became the shadow of an old deer bone among the green grass that doesn't know its name."

1984

Umbrellas in the Snow

January 1984
Written while Brautigan stayed at the Owl Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, concerning his surprise to see residents break out their umbrellas with the first snow of the year.

Mussels

Written while Brautigan stayed at the Owl Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, concerning a nearby sandwich shop. The hot mussel sandwich could be as good as any reason for returning to Amsterdam.

Sandwalker

Written while Brautigan stayed at the Owl Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, concerning a fantasy of wanting to reach through the wall of his hotel room and kill a young boy in the next room who was keeping him awake.

The Habitue

Written while Brautigan stayed at the Owl Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, concerning getting his shoes repaired.

Added Days

April 1984
Vague memories from Brautigan's childhood.
Written while Brautigan stayed at the Keio Plaza Hotel, in Tokyo, Japan.

The Ad

A story about a large gingerbread cottage in the lobby of the Keio Plaza Hotel, in Tokyo, Japan. Brautigan included observations of a man vacuuming crumbs from the carpet in front of the cottage, and two women posing for a photograph in front of the cottage.

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