Two Richard Brautigan Moments

A few months ago, I reread June 30th, June 30th, a book of poems by the late Richard Brautigan that I had purchased for $3.95 during the first week it was available in 1978. At that time I was a big fan of Brautigan who later dropped out of sight and killed himself in 1984.

Back in the seventies I hoped each newly released Brautigan novel, or book of poetry would be as good as what he had written in the prior decade. Trout Fishing In America(1967) was the best. A Confederate  General From Big Sur (1965) was noteworthy for where I read it. I was behind the wheel of a parked military sedan during the Vietnam War era. I was the assigned driver that day for a Lt. Colonel. The book was an easy read, complicated only by my constantly checking the rear view mirror for the returning colonel.  I assumed the book might not be considered acceptable by the powers that be, especially since I’d been drafted into the Army and was only interested in serving the minimum two years without getting killed. Looking back 50 years I remember the reading venue, not the book.

This year after finishing “Land of the Rising Sun,” the last entry in June 30th, June 30th, I flipped to a blank page and a 1978 utility bill for $7.94 in my name that had been used as a bookmark. I didn’t like the poems this time around, but the address on the bill sparked thoughts of the apartment I had lived in Los Angeles—it was quite something.

With the passage of time, Richard Brautigan’s written words have grown vague, but what remains clear is the excitement he created by perfectly capturing moments for twenty-somethings who were questioning authority and themselves in the 1960s.

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