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.

          

Background

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.

Inspiration

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.

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