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Words, Words, Words

A catalog of my comments and thoughts on books, reading, and writing as well as anything I come across that seems interesting. I used to sell other people's words at an independent bookstore but now I hope to get by on selling my own.

A Portait

The Abortion - Richard Brautigan

This book was sitting on the staff picks of my local bookstore for over a month, even at just $4, I suspect because of the title. Which makes sense, though seems odd after reading since the book never touches on the controversy of the procedure, it's simply a thing that happens in the story. I suppose putting abortion right on the cover filters out people who would take offense. It is hard to know what the climate was like he was releasing it into in 1971.


What the book is, is beautiful, slow moving, and quirky. Brautigan does not seem interested in experimenting with plot, but he revels in the feel of language. Everything goes according to plan, I kept expecting for things to go terribly wrong as things are wont to do in stories. There is tension, but the kind that arises naturally from traveling, medical procedures, a change in job, and many other events that will probably be okay but worry us.


The focus is on the writing. Brautigan spends whole sections building the settings: who is there, what they are doing, what the space is, what it means to the characters.He flirts with indulgence but his style is straightforward enough that he never quite crosses that line. Plus his world and his writing are just off-beat enough to justify the approach. 


The Abortion is set in 1966, which is incidental since it mostly takes place in a "library" that takes in any book that anybody wants to write and add to the collection, any time, day or night. The librarian, whom I don't believe was given a name, bears the naivete of that era convincingly. Meditations on the beauty of Vida--his girlfriend whose attractiveness and the constant, unwanted attention it brings, has become a burden, a forerunner of Madame Psychosis in Infinite Jest--come off as endearing, genuine appreciation in a world that constantly wants to own and ogle and grab.


It is a quick read, and a pleasant one, for anyone coming off of a long project or anytime you could use a read that points out the beauty around us, which is really what the book deals with: his beautiful girlfriend, the beautiful moments that make up a life, appreciation for what was and hope for what is to come.