Brautigan > Willard and His Bowling Trophies
This node of the American Dust website (formerly Brautigan Bibliography and Archive) provides comprehensive information about Richard Brautigan's novel Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery. Published in 1975, this was Brautigan's sixth 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 Richard Brautigan's novel Willard and His Bowling Trophies.
First USA Edition
New York: Simon and Schuster
5.5" x 8.25"; 167 pages; ISBN 0-671-22065-9
Hard Cover, with dust jacket
Brown cloth boards; Tan gilt titles on spine; Tan endpapers
Book designed by Elizabeth Woll
Front dust jacket color illustration by Wendell Minor
Back dust jacket photograph by of Brautigan by Jill Krementz
Printed yellow wrappers
First published in 1975, Willard and His Bowling Trophies was Richard Brautigan's sixth published novel and the second to parody a literary genre, sado-masochism in this case. The novel, as others by Brautigan, dealt with the isolation of people from each other.
In real life, Willard was a papier máché sculpture, a bird about three feet high painted red, white, and orange with big, round eyes, a pot belly, and long beak created by Brautigan's friend Stanley Fullerton as a satire of Brautigan's resemblance of a stork. Fullerton gave the sculpture to Price Dunn who named it "Willard" and placed it on a shelf in his Pacific Grove, California, home. Price and his brother, Bruce, added bowling trophies left over from one of their moving business jobs, creating a shrine for Willard. When Brautigan visited Dunn in 1967 he was enamored of Willard and he and Dunn developed a spontaneous fantasy concerning his background and life. At the end of his visit, Brautigan took Willard to San Francisco. Whenever Dunn visited Brautigan they turned the fantasy surrounding Willard into a game, each working out elaborate ways of leaving the other stuck with Willard. As Brautigan saw Dunn less frequently, he continued the game with other friends as well, leaving Willard with Curt Gentry when he traveled to Japan in the 1970s. Later, Brautigan gave Willard to actor friend Terry McGovern, who currently keeps the sculpture in his home.Close
Reviews for Richard Brautigan's novel Willard and His Bowling Trophies 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.
Adams, Phoebe-Lou. "Willard and His Bowling Trophies." Atlantic, Oct.1975, p. 110.
The full text of this review reads, "Mr. Brautigan strings together some outlandish episodes to demonstrate that the world is full of misdirected violence. He must have been reading the papers."
Anonymous. "Books." Playboy, Oct. 1975, p. 32.
The full text of this review reads, "Richard Brautigan has a new book called Willard and His Bowling Trophies (Simon and Schuster). If you've read any Brautigan, you'll understand that there isn't any easy way to describe his books. If you haven't read any Brautigan, this is as good a place as any to start. He calls this novel "A Perverse Mystery," although there aren't any detectives or policemen to be seen. Just three sets of lives: one happy, one unhappy and one angry. These lives collide for reasons that only can be called perverse. Brautigan is again writing in a style that gives off heavy imitations of [Ernest] Hemingway—had Papa ever gotten around to blowing a lot of grass. The story is slim, but the nuances are all touching. Brautigan has real feeling for small lives that are just going on and going wrong. You'll find yourself liking his characters—and very often he makes you smile, which has to be worth something these days."
Anonymous. "Brautigan, Richard." The Booklist, 1 Sep. 1975, pp. 23-24.
The full text of this review reads, "An unpredictable, marvelously funny satire peopled by oddball characters only Brautigan could imagine: the Logan brothers pursuing a crime-financed, three-year search for their stolen bowling trophies, a couple practicing sexual fantasies parodying those in The Story of O, and anoother couple who own Willard, a papier mache three foot bird, and incidentally have acquired the lost trophies. The brief paragraphs telling this madcap tale resemble a constantly interrupted but nevertheless comprehensible conversation with the evidently irrepresible Brautigan."
Anonymous. "Brautigan, Richard." The Kirkus Reviews, 15 July 1975. p. 791.
The full text of this review reads, "When Brautigan is good he is pure magic. But when he is bad he is perverse. Don't be fooled by the fact that the first chapter is about how Constance and Bob got into middlebrow S & M bondage because he got veneral warts because her novel didn't sell. That's not the perverted part of the mystery. And don't be so trusting as to think you will ever learn WHO stole the bowling trophies from the Logan boys who have sworn vengeance against the unknown thief. And WHO placed the informant phone call or WHY it was a "$3000" phone call or WHAT the Logan sisters' strange hobby is or what HAPPENS after the Logans break into the wrong apartment and kill Constance and Bob because the upstairs neighbors reversed the apartment numbers on a whim. Or even why WILLARD is smiling. Read this book and you'll be taken for a ride—a very short (112-page) ride. Contrariness and false leads are the operatiave principals of both plot and style. It's a blowzy, bad joke about a lot of San Franciscans whose lives are bad jokes with the usual diverting succession of Brautigan jabs into sad, spun-sugar comic realism—silly, stylized outrageous stuff about the Johnny Carson show and incomplete fragments by dead-poets and love among the incompetents. Not the best Brautigan, just a facsimile thereof."
Anonymous. "Briefly Noted." New Yorker, 10 Nov. 1975, pp. 189-190.
The full text of this review reads, "America was a very large place and the bowling trophies were very small in comparison." With that indisputable (and all too representative) line, Richard Brautigan establishes the quandary of the three Logan brothers—oafish types from whom some cherished bowling trophies have been stolen. While the brothers are scouring America up and down, the trophies have fallen into the hands of a young San Francisco couple, John and Pat, who are keeping them in a room with a papier-mâché bird named Willard. In an apartment upstairs from John and Pat is another young couple, Bob and Constance, who, afflicted by misery and venereal warts, are caught in an inane sadomasochistic charade; at first, Bob enjoyed tying Constance up and flogging her lightly, but now, a year later, they keep repeating the game even though the fun is gone. There are a few small anchors for all this whimsy (the way John tries to avoid seeing the very end of the "Tonight Show", for example), and they may be all that prevents the book from rising out of the reader's hands and floating, deadpan, out the window."
Anonymous. "Paperbacks: New and Noteworthy." The New York Times Book Review, 24 Apr. 1977, p. 49.
The full text of this review reads, "The wild whimsy that carries Brautigan so triumphantly through short pieces and verse doesn't quite sustain him through the length of this short novel of unhappy sex and senseless murder along the San Andreas fault."
Anonymous. "Willard and His Bowling Trophies." Publishers Weekly, 7 Feb. 1977, p. 94.
The full text of this review reads, "There is double perversity in this bizarre thriller. Both the eccentric characters and Brautigan himself sometimes shock, sometimes gently amuse. "Brautigan hasn't developed much as a writer, but he has an irrestible knack of catching his readers unaware," PW observed."
Bannon, Barbara A. "Willard and His Bowling Trophies." Publishers Weekly, 7 July 1975, p. 80.
The full text of this review reads, "Inside this perverse mystery is childlike wonderment fighting to get out, or maybe it's just the other way around. Brautigan has a reassuring way of sweetly stroking your head as he assaults your senses with sexual bondage, murder, personality disintegration, the smell of mom's baking, peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches and lost Greek poets. Here he plays pranks on two San Francisco couples: Constance and Bob, who suffer mightily because of venereal warts, and the downstairs neighbors Pat and John, in whose living room sits enthroned a papier-mâché bird named Willard, surrounded by the Logan brothers' 50 bowling trophies. But it's the three Logans who bear watching. They've spent years looking for those stolen trophies (an Eskimo has directed them to San Francisco), and they're out for blood. Brautigan hasn't developed much as a writer, but he has an irresistible knack of catching his reader unaware. And for the present at least, that's more than good enough."
Barnes, Julian. "No Picnic." New Statesman, 21 May 1976, p. 685.
Reviews The Poisoned Kiss by Joyce Carol Oates, In the Night All Cats are Grey by Gavin Lammert, The Story of My Desire by Philip Callow, and Willard and His Bowling Trophies by Brautigan. READ this review.
Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 9. Edited by Dedria Bryfonski. Gale Research Company, 1978, pp. 123-25.
Bedell, Thomas D. "Brautigan, Richard." Library Journal, vol. 100, no. 17, 1 Oct. 1975, p. 1844.
The full text of this review reads, "The "mystery" concerns Willard (a papier-mâché bird capable of changing expressions) and his collection of trophies, stolen three years earlier from the Logan brothers (they are former bowling champions turned criminals and hot in pursuit of the trophies). Constance, a critically (but not economically) successful novelist, and her lover Bob (an amateur sadist ever since developing a case of venereal warts) account for the 'perverse.' Brautigan's whimsical style, his wildly imaginative similes, have served him well through five other novels. But here style and substance create an uneasy mix, the 'real' world (represented by a quote from Senator Frank Church, 'This land is cursed with violence'), strangely intruding into what seems a gentle fantasy. Brautigan fallen on and coming to grips with evil times—'a delight to read in a very sad way.'"
The Library Journal Book Review 1975. Edited by Janet Fletcher. R.R. Bowker Company, 1977, p. 611.
Blumberg, Myrna. "Fiction." The Times [London], 10 June 1976, p. 10.
The full text of this review reads, "Mr. Brautigan's images are inimitable. Willard is a papier mâché bird, shadowy 'like an unspoken prayer', who stands by about 50 stolen bowling trophies in a San Francisco flat. These prizes once proved the worthiness of three hero-worshipped brothers who, after a nation-wide search to recover their losses, take revenge against the wrong people. All are transformed in big-hearted short sentences. Humour is bang on."
Brooks, Jeremy. "A Camera at the Crucifixtion." The Sunday Times [London], 23 May 1976, p. 39.
Reviews The Burning Men by Stuart Jackman, The Stepdaughter by Caroline Blackwood, The Himalayan Concerto by John Masters, and Willard and His Bowling Trophies by Brautigan.
The full text of this review reads, "How soon will it be before we have a wave of nostalgia for the Sixties? When it comes, Richard Brautigan will surely come into his own, for he trails clouds of inspired fantasy that could only have been dreamed in that psychedelic decade.
"At the time of discovery, I lapped up his first book, Trout Fishing in America, some of whose most bizarre images still frolic about, laughing at themselves, in my head. Subsequent books have left me vaguely unsatisfied; I have been wanting him to find a form in which the shape of the whole has as important a role to play as the separate scintillating parts.
Willard and His Bowling Trophies is clearly Brautigan's attempt to satisfy this need, but it doesn't really work. Whatever is good in the book—and there's a lot—is all unconnected detail. The image of Willard, a papier-mâché bird, standing guard among the bowling trophies which rightly belong to the demented Logan brothers, has an irresistible comic dignity. And there is an account of a married sexual relationship which is the nicest, saddest, funniest, truest handling of this subject I've read.
But the Logan brothers themselves, whose murderous search for their lost trophies gives the book what structure it has, are cut-out figures who dissipate interest at every appearance. Their final revenge, instead of being a tragic irony, is an embarrassment.
Cartano, Tony. "Heritier de Melville." Quinzaine, no. 278, 15 May 1978, pp. 7-8.
Review from a French perspective comparing Brautigan to Herman Melville.
Cole, William. "Prides and Prejudices." Saturday Review, 10 Jan. 1976, p. 58.
Notes exemplary books in various categories. Cites Willard and His Bowling Trophies as the "worst" novel of the year. The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads, "I can be just as opinionated as the next man, and this is a good time to be opinionated about last year's books, to pick favorites, to mention some I didn't have room to cover, and to flaunt a few prejudices.
"Worst Novel: Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery by Richard Brautigan (Simon & Schuster, $5.95). Up to the author's usual standards: fey and wispy."
Copps, Dale G. "Books in Brief." Bookletter, vol. 2, no. 2, 1 Sep. 1975, p. 2.
The full text of this review reads, "A young man whose sudden afflication with warts in an embarrasing place finds solace in fragments of Greek poetry and mildly perverse sexuality. A couple living below him owns a papier-mâché bird surrounded by stolen bowling trophies. The real owners are approaching the end of their countrywide search for the trophies, the loss of which has metamorphosed them from three nice American brothers into hysterical hunters living off the pickings from 100 gas station robberies. These are the elements in Richard Brautigan's latest "novel," subtitled A Perverse Mystery.
And it is mysterious—we never know if the current possessors of the trophies actually stole them or whether the brothers ever recover them. It never occurs to ask "why?" to these or a dozen other questions.
And perverse. Brautigan, as he will do, zeros in on an irony and pursues it to its most egregious limits. Much of the book is silly and gives a distinct impression of a "first draft." Until suddenly a mellifluous note is sounded by a magical metaphor (the pages of a book were "turned like leaves in an absent-minded wind") and we're in Brautigan country where, for all the heavy and often hollow humor, we visit the perverse mysteries of human relationships, most delicately revealed. A semiprecious gem for Brautigan's expectant readership.
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, March 2003, p. ***?***.
A summary of Cüpper's longer study of Brautigan. In October 2006 the association name was changed to Old Languages and Modern Literatures of the University of Cork (Liège), shortened to BabeLg. The bulletin also changed its name to The Newspaper of BabeLg. READ this review.
Davis, L. J. "Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery by Richard Brautigan." New Republic, 20 Sep. 1975, p. 30.
Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 12. Edited by Dedria Bryfonski. Gale Research Company, 1980, pp. 57-74.
Fallowell, Duncan. "Trips." Spectator [London], 29 May 1976, p. 30.
Reviews The Poisoned Kiss by Joyce Carol Oates and Willard and His Bowling Trophies by Brautigan. The portion of this review related to Brautigan reads, "The first thing to be said about Richard Brautigan is that he is a bad value for money. His chapters begin half way down one page to end half way down the next. Sometimes that are very short and begin and end in the middle of the same page. Occasionally they are a squit longer and run on to a third page—just—resulting in almost one and a half pages of hiatus before you come to a few more words. It's like trying to trace a north west passage through ice fields. He has always arranged his work in this way, giving it the appearance of a stocking rampant with ladders. In the past it was because he was spaced out. Now it is because he is self-important.
Willard and his Bowling Trophies is a humorous downtown fantasy and might strike someone not au fait with post-colonic literature as unusual, disgusting even. This is not so. Brautigan couldn't split an infinitive to save his life. In the manner in which he handles his God-given culture he could be the nearest America comes to producing an updated P.G. Wodehouse. But his originality, let alone longevity, has suffered from an overdose of small beer exacerbated by a material lack of concentration. The most concentrated sentence is "After he came his penis would slowly soften inside of her and their bodies would be very quiet together like two haunted houses staring across a weedy vacant lot at each other." A minor planetary system spirals inside that sentence. He used to be throwing them up all the time.
Stretched beyond endurance, with these big gaps all over the show, the book is finally embarrassed by the exaggerated attention brought to bear upon its whimsy. "They would tear a nice hole in you and provide you with enough death to last forever"—ugh, coy, and it is often like that. Even the basic idea is forced, a Caesarean attempt at lunacy. The Logan Brothers are nice boys until one day their bowling trophies are stolen; they hit the road to recover them in an anti-social frame of mind, and end up committing murder on a peculiar couple called Bob and Constance who are trainee sado-masochists innocent of theft.
The funniest episodes observe this couple's entanglement with venereal warts. Here is the most concentrated sentence from that theme. (Bob examining his urethra): 'The warts were like an evil little island of pink mucous roses.' I find such writing quite extraordinarily delicious, it makes a direct appeal to my synapses. But Willard is rarely so expressive, a shame because Mr. Brautigan can arrange substantial treats when he is properly wired up.
Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 12. Edited by Dedria Bryfonski. Gale Research Company, 1980, pp. 57-74.
Frank, Sheldon. "Brautigan." The National Observer, 11 Oct. 1975, p. 21.
Fremont-Smith, Eliot. "Making Book on a Sentimental Season." Village Voice, 15 Sep. 1975, p. 50.
Provides a literary sampler of books being published in Fall of 1975, saying the lineup is "depressing for anyone who cares about cultural quality and has forgotten how rare quality is." Brautigan's Willard and His Bowling Trophies noted for release in September. The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads, "A nude viewing of Johnny Carson is enlivened by the theft of some bowling trophies and the presence of a large papier-mâché bird. Well . . ."
Gordon, Andrew. "Richard Brautigan's Parody of Arthur Miller." Notes On Modern American Literature, vol. 6, no. 1, Spring-Summer 1981, Item 8.
Gougeon, Leonard. "Brautigan, Richard." Best Sellers, vol. 35, no. 7, Oct. 1975, pp. 202-203.
The full text of this review reads, "This novel has three things to recommend it. First, it's short; Second, it's short; and Third, it's short. While the jacket blurb promises that this 'stunning new novel . . . explores contemporary values in America and their effect upon all of us,' there is actually little that is stunning about it, and the only values that it seems to question are literary. A description of the plot virtually exhausts it.
"The story takes place in an apartment house in San Francisco. Constance and Bob live upstairs and indulge in mildly offbeat sexual fantasies (with little enjoyment), read the Greek Anthology, and in a melancholic mood mourn the meaninglessness of existence. Pat and John live downstairs, eat turkey sandwiches naked (they are, not the sandwiches) and watch Johnny Carson. Willard is a three-foot-high papier-mache bird who has no meaning other than that (appropriately, he is the story's namesake). The Logan brothers, three of them, have had their bowling trophies stolen and have vowed to get them back. In the process they degenerate from respectable middle-class citizens—and bowling champions—to gas station hold-up men and, eventually, murderers.
Through what is probaly supposed to be an existential quirk of fate, John and Pat find the trophies in an abandoned car and bring them home. Through another such quirk, as a joke, John and Pat change the number of their apartment with that of Constance and Bob. As a result, when the Logan brothers finally locate their trophies (after three years' searching), they burst into the wrong apartment and annihilate Constance and Bob.
While the novel supposedly demonstrates the meaninglessness of human existence at the present moment, and such values as are represented by the Johnny Carson show, Brautigan has apparently been hoist on his own petard since he presents a meaningless novel. While there are those who might feel that there is some value in this, I would suggest that comic books are perhaps more adept in this regard, and certainly less costly.
Hepburn, Neil. "Spare and Strange." The Listener [London], 27 May 1976, p. 687.
Reviews In the Night All Cats are Grey by Gavin Lambert, The Story of My Desire by Philip Callow, You're Not Alone: A Doctor's Diary by William Cooper, and Willard and His Bowling Trophies by Brautigan.
The portion of this review related to Brautigan reads, "Richard Brautigan's new novel is called Willard and His Bowling Trophies. Willard, as faithful readers of Brautigan may be unsurprised to hear, turns out to be an aviform artifact of papier-mâché, presiding benignly over a cluster of stolen trophies in the apartment occupied by John and Patricia, who have acquired them by accident. Above them in the same block live Bob and Constance, whose once pleasant and ordered life has been reduced to a consuming melancholy by a double attack of venereal warts. Roaming America, in quest of the trophies, are the Logan brothers, rightful owners and worshippers of these baubles, and hot for vengeance. Pat and John watch the Johnny Carson Show in bed. Bob reads to Constance from The Greek Anthology. The Logans rob filling-stations, drink beer, read comic-books and play with guns to pass the three years of their search. One night the brothers hear about Willard, but make a mistake about the apartment.
"That is all there is of Mr. Brautigan's new book; but not all there is to it. He has been called a minimalist writer, and if that means that his books are short, it is true: Willard takes about an hour to read, is made up of short chapters of short sentences of short words, and is notably short of decoration.
"Yet this compact fable carries more meaning than all the rest of this week's books put together—and none of them is actually thin. It is hard to describe exactly what meaning it communicates in the same way as it is hard to describe the meaning of Chekhov stories and plays, where the same dialectic of tragedy and trivialities generates a feeling of compassion, sadness, nostalgia, fragile gaiety and nameless pain. But it is not hard to say why it is so enjoyable, since the definitive words already exist in Gerard Manley Hopkins: 'counter, original, spare, strange . . .'"
Kušnír, Jaroslav. "Richard Brautigan's and Donald Barthelme's Crisis of Representation: The King and Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery." Paper submitted for PostModerne Produktionen conference, University of Erlangen, Germany, 24-26 Nov. 2000.
Kušnír is a faculty member at the University of Prešov, Slovakia. His abstract for this paper reads, "Richard Brautigan's and Donald Barthelme's many works represent this kind of postmodern writing which, on the one hand, reflects the crisis of linguistic representation of the outer reality, and, on the other one, can be understood as the critique of the manipulative power of media shaping people's vision of the world. In my paper I will focus on the narrative and compositional strategies both authors use in their novels The King (Donald Barthelme) and Willard and His Bowling Trophies to pinpoint the role of popular culture and mass media in distorting the people's vision and understanding of outer reality." READ this review.
Feedback from Jaroslav Kušnír
I highly value your bibliographical work on Brautigan because I still think he is quite a neglected author in the USA.
— Jaroslav Kušnír. Email to John F. Barber, 14 May 2008.
Le Vot, André. "Libre Du Mois—Willard et Ses Trophées de Bowling." Esprit, no. 6, 1978, pp. 141-142.
Reviews four different books by Stanley Elkin, Donald Barthelme, Richard Brautigan, and Tom Robbins recently translated into French, each depicting American imagery in literature. Speaks of the psychological fantastic themes of Elkin, the unusual space of Barthelme, the humorous parody of Brautigan, and the picaresque enchantment of Robbins. Includes a short synopsis of each author's work. Says Brautigan shows an enormous amount of nonchalance, is imperturbable, and very amusing.
Locklin, Gerald. "Brautigan Offers Short-Long Novel, New Paperback Edition." Independent Press-Telegram [Long Beach, CA], 3 Oct. 1975, p. A24.
Notes the release of the paperback edition of The Hawkline Monster (which he reviewed 22 November 1974) and reviews Willard and His Bowling Trophies. Says, "If anyone could have breathed life into Willard, it would have been Brautigan, but his tales remains the consistency of papier-mache."
The full text of this review reads, "The release of the paperback edition of The Hawkline Monster coincides with the publication of Richard Brautigan's most recent novel, Willard and His Bowling Trophies. I reviewed the former in these pages a year ago as a successful cioppio of parody, whimsy, folk materials, and figurative ingenuity. If you liked earlier work by Brautigan, I think you will enjoy The Hawkline Monster. But Brautigan, of course, has never been for everybody.
Whom Willard is for, unfortunately, I cannot guess. It is a short book, but it reads as long as An American Tragedy, which at times its seems to be trying to resemble. The materials at hand might have sufficed for a good longish story, but as a novel they are attenuated by a repetitiousness that has become more mannered than clever. And the old metaphorical zaniness is largely missing.
Three sets of characters are counterpointed: Bob and Carolyn, whose sexlife has been tragically diverted by The Greek Anthology, The Story of O, and veneral warts; Pat and John, who go to a Garbo movie, eat turkey sandwiches, watch a little Johnny Carson, and talk to Willard, their papier-mache bird who is currently in possession of the bowling trophies; and the Logan brothers, whose three-year quest to regain their stolen bowling trophies turns them from All-American boys into desperate criminals.
It would be the fallacy of imitiative form to argue that the book is dull because it deliberately reflects the dullness of American life. It is a bit more appealing to think of the book as Brautigan's perfunctory contribution to the American Bicentennial. I'm afraid it is more likely that this was just a half-hearted effort to follow his spirited "Gothic Western" with what seems to have been an obligatory "Perverse Mystery." Maybe I was in an unreceptive mood when reading the book, but Brautigan at his best, as in A Confederate General from Big Sur (which would by the way, make good bicentennial reading) is irrestible. If anyone could have breathed life into Willard, it would have been Brautigan, but his tales remains the consistency of papier-mache.
Mason, Michael. "Rootin', Tootin' and Shootin'." The Times Literary Supplement [London], 21 May 1976, p. 600.
Morrow, Patrick D. "Willard and His Bowling Trophies." Western American Literature, May 1976, pp. 61-63.
Neely, Mildred Sola. "Brautigan's Next Novel Slated for Fall by S & S." Publishers Weekly, 6 Jan. 1975, p. 35.
The full text of this review reads, "Richard Brautigan, whose novel, The Hawkline Monster, has sold 49,000 copies in hardcover to date, has just delivered the manuscript of his new novel, Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery, and Simon and Schuster reports it will be published in the fall.
"According to S & S, the novel deals with two San Francisco couples who live in the same three-story building: one couple reads The Greek Anthology and acts out variants from The Story of O, while the other watches Johnny Carson from bed and lives with Willard, a huge papier-mâché bird, and his 50 bowling trophies. The pllot is complicated even further by the Logan Brothers (not to mention the Logan sisters), whose sole aim is to recover the stolen bowling trophies over which Willard stands guard.
"Brautigan's The Hawkline Monster was his first book to be published exclusively in hardcover; previously, his works appeared simultaneously in cloth and paper."
O'Connell, Shaun. "American Fiction, 1975: Celebration in Wonderland." Massachusetts Review, vol. 17, no. 1, Spring 1976, pp. 165-194.
A retrospective look at fiction works publised in 1975. The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads, "Though Brautigan's Willard and His Bowling Trophies may or may not be set in the '60s, it has an ad hoc discontinuousness appropriate to our recollection of that decade. The Logan brothers try to regain their stolen bowling trophies which are in possession of of Willard, a papier-mâché bird. Of course. When someone asks what Willard is doing with the trophies, someone else answers, "Why not?" Don't ask. Just accept concurrent impulses of discontinuousness; go with the feeling, baby. But, of course, the feelings don't go anywhere. While everything in Willard has the starkness of allegory, as in Abolitionist [of Clark Gable Place] [by Charles Webb], nothing converts convincingly into meaning; or, another way to put it, things mean to quickly and easily, as when Brautigan makes Matthew Brady appear to photograph Willard and the trophies "to be part of everything that has ever happened in this land of America." Indeed, as [Joseph] Heller insists something has happened, but we get little convincing guidance toward discovering what from the novelistic comic-books of Webb or Brautigan."
Parra, Ernesto. "Cocinas de Placer [Kitchens of Pleasure]." Nueva Estafeta [New Courier], 26 Jan. 1981, pp. 100-102.
Rogers, Michael. "The Gentle Brautigan & the Nasty Seventies: Willard and His Bowling Trophies." The New York Times Book Review, 14 Sep. 1975, p. 4.
Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 12. Edited by Dedria Bryfonski. Gale Research Company, 1980, pp. 57-74.
In a letter to the editor ("Off the Hook." New York Times, 5 Oct. 1975, Sec. 7, p. 50) Hope Hale Davis comments on Rogers' review.
To the Editor:
Strange how the most thoughtful writers can lapse in their practical thinking.
After commenting wisely on "Willard and His Bowling Trophies" (Sep. 14), Michael Rogers ends his review with the remark that it's "hard not to imagine that somewhere, Richard Brautigan is still standing, telephone in hand, waiting for a call."
If his phone is hooked up the usual way, he'll wait a long time.
My favorite lapser in this league is the eminent movie critic who in reviewing "High Noon" described the tension of the climax with the hero walking to his midday confrontation "as the shadows grew longer and longer."
Hope Hale Davis
Russell, Lawrence. "Richard Brautigan: Child Man of the Atomic Age: A Review of Willard and His Bowling Trophies." culturecourt.com, 4 Dec. 1998.
Sage, Lorna. "Hell Hath No Fury." The Observer Review, 23 May 1976, p. 31.
Reviews The Stepdaugher by Caroline Blackwood, The Story of My Desire by Philip Callow, and Willard and His Bowling Trophies by Brautigan. The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads, "Willard and His Bowling Trophies by Richard Brautigan is a grim and wistful tale about what happens to a perfectly normal marriage attacked by a plague of veneral warts. Among other things, Bob and Constance. picked out by fate for this comic humiliation, do their best to keep their marriage together by acting out excerpts from The Story of O and so on, but it's obvious from the start that someone has it in for them. Most likely Willard, who's a papier maché bird belonging to the couple downstairs, whose sex-life is perfectly OK. . . . Richard Brautigan is still pretty funny, but he seems more and more to be engaged in solitary contemplation of his own quintessence."