So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away

Richard Brautigan, arguably the greatest fiction writer that ever lived, would have turned 74 years today. I could give you an incoherent account of why I think he was great; instead, so that you can judge for yourself, I’ll give you a short excerpt from one of his best novels, So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away.

So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away! Is there a better reason to write down a story, a better name for one? Yet it appears novelists before him hadn’t thought of it, boringly calling their books Madame Bovary or Manhattan Transfer or Great Expectations instead.

Here are the book’s opening paragraphs. If you don’t like this bit, his work’s probably not for you. In case you do, along with this one I particularly recommend In Watermelon Sugar and The Abortion.
I didn’t know that afternoon that the ground was waiting to become another grave in just a few short days. Too bad I couldn’t grab the bullet out of the air and put it back into the .22 rifle barrel and have it spiral itself back down the barrel and into the chamber and refasten itself to the shell and be as if it had never been fired or even loaded into the gun.

I wish the bullet was back in its box with the other 49 brother and sister bullets and the box was safely on the shelf in the gunshop, and I had just walked by the shop on that rainy February afternoon and never gone inside.

I wish I had been hungry for a hamburger instead of bullets. There was a restaurant right next to the gunshop. They had very good hamburgers, but I wasn’t hungry.

For the rest of my life I’ll think about that hamburger. I’ll be sitting there at the counter, holding it in my hands with tears streaming down my cheeks. The waitress will be looking away because she doesn’t like to see kids crying when they are eating hamburgers, and also she doesn’t want to embarrass me.

I am the only customer in the restaurant.

She doesn’t need this.

She has her own problems.

Her boyfriend left her last week for a redhead from Chicago. This is the second time in a year this has happened to her. She can’t believe it. It has to be more than a coincidence. How many redheads are there in Chicago?

She takes a rag and cleans up an imaginary stain far down the counter, wiping up something spilled that isn’t there. I’ll continue on with this story:

So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away
Dust . . . American . . . Dust

He shot himself in 1984. The exact day is unknown. After all, he was a lonely man.

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