BRAUTIGAN – by Philippe Sarr

« Ok for an improv on Brautigan. Just give me time to get to the moon. The sea of tranquility is still a long way off. But I have a good scooter.
It was with these sybilline words that one might think they came out of my head one night of drinking that I replied to David Laurençon, the editor of, a classy and delicate magazine. I had written a strange text: Improvisation, where it was about smoke rings (do you see the link?). His reply was quick and to the point: « No. I don’t want that script. Write me something about Brautigan instead. Okay? »

– I would like you to steal a body from the morgue.

– No problem, I say. If you’ll pay the price, I’ll drop off Abraham Lincoln’s body on your doorstep tomorrow with the morning paper.

A Private in Babylon
Richard Brautigan

To tell the truth, Brautigan is a little? a lot? passionately? Madly the writer I would have liked to be. For a whole bunch of reasons, some of them trivial in themselves, a look, a face, among other such follies. For me, Brautigan was this « strange monster », a monster of gentleness and tenderness, a sort of immense escogriff with a rhizomatic moustache, whom one could meet at the corner of a street while visiting his wine shop. Reading Brautigan was like stringing together epic poems and novels, he had a certain taste for peaks, for great space-time embraces, like a shot of tequila. And the effect could be immediate, it didn’t take more than that for me to find myself walking in some lost place in the depths of Larzac wearing a sombrero. Joking aside, with Brautigan, every word, every sentence is an event in itself. It gives to see, reveals, as one would say of a sacred text, what one has always sensed without having been able to make it audible, visible or present. All of Brautigan’s art would therefore lie there. In these flashes of brilliance, in this powerful capacity, by the sheer force of writing, to open « Babylonian » doors, to mark out new paths, to clear a passage into universes where grace vies with the baroque. Where it is no longer a question of oscillating between different levels of reality, but of entering fully into an absolutely singular (new?) world that integrates them all. From this point of view, the author of L’avortement will have created a multiuniverse. A highly diversified work. Just as he will have been the inventor, perhaps in spite of himself, of a style, of a totally free and liberated writing, disorienting his reader, shattering his beliefs and values, his habits, including editorial ones… (see this insane bookshop, gathering in perfect anonymity all the rejected manuscripts of the planet!) This is the « Brautigan miracle ». Multiplying, in a flash, the craziest and most surprising images and situations. All this with a certain casualness (Why unknown poets remain unknown, the title of a poetry collection) and via a well-controlled writing style, but far from being boring. A writing that is both literally and figuratively explosive, that tears, shakes and refreshes at the same time. Brautigan is from another time. Brautigan is « Tenet » well before his time. The shadow of this gangly body is only discovered afterwards. That of an authentic « celestial tramp ». A literarily modified mutant.

There is no heaviness of any kind about him. A cool, « untroubled » side. Despite the brakes and obstacles of a life full of nuances, a hotbed of detachment and turbulence where the fire smoulders under the ice. Perhaps his name has something to do with it, a surname that is so pleasant to hear and pronounce. Brautigan, a poet and writer’s name. One of those indispensable ones that you enjoy reading, day and night. One of those whose little music, so special, modern-day blues, accompanies you wherever you are… Spouts funny dreams while keeping you awake. So alive.

Brautigan probably didn’t have the writing life he deserved. Brautigan occupies a very special place in the circle of the celestial tramps who have disappeared. A question of temperament, perhaps, which led him to take his own life (an idea put forward by Jim Harrison) on a Montana ranch, precisely where a young woman had bowed out some time earlier… Or of profound boredom in a world far too narrow for the poet he was…

Here is the link to the Brautigan library : > The brautigan library
The library of rejected manuscripts. It can be found in The Abortion. The « books » are classified there according to the mayonnaise system, all the works being perfectly mixed, poetry, fictions, essays. No authors’ names or book titles. Just the text. The text alone…

Philippe Sarr