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English (Scripps)

Publication Date



American Literature | Literature in English, North America


Richard Brautigan is an epiphenomenon in American literature. He seems to represent some sort of insubstantial alternative. While the academy of letters reads Beckett, Borges, and Nabokov, the kids read Brautigan...His appeal consists primarily in an irrepressible optimism (probably the brand of a woodsy Pacific Northwest background), a style flashing with artifice, and a total disregard for effete university culture. Mr. Brautigan is not himself the product of American higher education or of much formal training of any kind. Furthermore, his fund of simplicity and optimism is a relief for some from the profound despair of writers like Beckett. To complete the picture, I need only add that his flashy technique, in reality concealing a great deal of carelessness, on first reading must strike some readers as more exciting than the whittled style and carefully constructed works of Borges.


This article was reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism, edited by Dedria Bryfonski, vol. 12, pp. 68-69. Copyright © Gale 1980.

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