|Pocket Book edition 4th printing 1975|
So I read this one on a single Friday several weeks ago and enjoyed it. Not really sure what the message is, or if there really is a message behind it. Is Vida's spiritual escape from the most gorgeous body in the world a symbolic abortion? Is the Librarian and Vida's leaving the womb of the library of unread books a symbolic abortion? Is their farewell to a life of lonely solitude an abortion?
Simply, it's about a librarian working in a library of "unwanted" books written by anyone with the desire to create such a thing. One day a girl shows up at the library with about about her book about hating her own body. She's the most beautiful girl in the world, with hair as black as a bat's. She stays with the librarian and the two of them make love. Eventually she is pregnant, and she and the librarian agree to go to Tijuana where she can get an abortion. They enlist the aid of the librarian's associate who provides them the name of a doctor to see. They go to Tijuana and...
The novel is delivered in simple prose with no fancy tricks, no self-aware indulgence that writers often go for in novels about nothing. So you have a novel about nothing, where there exists a place for books that will never be read and two lovers who share a relationship of uncertain prospects. And they're fulfilled.
I liked this book. I can see why people would be drawn to Brautigan's novels. But I have a hunch that novels like this one are now passe, considering the glut of pseudo-lit memoirs and zombie novels that clog the shelves in Barnes & Noble. I stopped going to Barnes & Noble a few years ago, when I noticed that they starting looking more like a Toys-R-Us than a bookstore. I wonder if your typical college lit major would bother with a novel like this one, or appreciate its simplicity.
I also have In Watermelon Sugar on my stack of books to read next year.