Tuesday, June 9, 2009

meteors, part I -- richard brautigan, revenge of the lawn

i like transcribing good pieces of writing. sometimes i devote myself with a vengeance and crib whole sections of books: i did all of rolfe humphries' translation of the myth of tereus, philomela, and procne sometime ago because reading it didn't seem to be enough. i'd read it so many times, echoing the words in my mind as my eyes flashed over the words; i had read them aloud too, savouring two words, "in vain", that came after poor philomela's tongue struggled toward her, desperate to regain its seat, and then subsided forever. typing them out gave me a different connection to them because i was inputting them and transmitting them out, saying here! look! this is so compelling that i can't look away but now here it is for all of us to look at! a pleasure akin to having somebody read aloud to you companionably.

in that spirit, i thought i would start a recurring, possibly litigious (i'll have to refresh my mind on free usage) section on my blog where i transcribe sections of writing that i think goes beyond the pale into something vivid and visceral, writing that i admire, that showed me truth or beauty or humour. i guess i also could have called this section in the raw -- i'm sure you'll see through my tastes after a few of these. but it's called meteors to maintain my space theme. reading short passages is like watching shooting stars anyway: a startled moment of recognition.

this first entry is a quickie from richard brautigan's collection of short stories revenge of the lawn, a story called pacific radio fire. as i read the book i may add to this entry, but in the meantime i think this is fine:

His eyes were wounded wet rugs.

Like some kind of strange vacuum cleaner I tried to console him. I recited the same old litanies that you say to people when you try to help their broken hearts, but words can't help at all.

It's just the sound of another human voice that makes the only difference. There's nothing you're ever going to say that's going to make anybody happy when they're feeling shitty about losing somebody that they love.

Finally he set fire to the radio. He piled some paper around it. He struck a match to the paper. We sat there watching it. I had never seen anybody set fire to a radio before.

for the record, i did a quick google image search for "radio on fire", went through five pages of results before i gave up...

update: look at what my friend craig battle found! i guess i was looking in the wrong place:


  1. that, of course, is my favorite of his stories.

  2. oh, and 1/3, 1/3, 1/3!

  3. oh yes! i loved that one too. i loved the end especially but i am afraid of giving away endings all the time. :)

  4. that is shocking, ben. and of course, i can't even say i liked it first! ;)

  5. that is shocking, ben. and of course, i can't even say i liked it first! ;)

  6. yes, the ending is the story. :)