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Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan

 

My Review

A unique and original story with themes of the bizarre.

This would fit nicely in the recent bizarro stories that have been published.
Neat little chapters and very economical choice of words in each sentence. There seems to be a darker message to this story than it just being a wacky story about a Japanese woman, a hair, a sombrero and the fallout.
Intelligently crafted humor with a literary work of sorts that catches the readers thoughts and memory. I read this due to Canongate providing me with a free copy to read of a new edition that has an excellent introduction from Jarvis Cocker mentioning his high regard for this story that was previously hard to find in bookstores or in print in general.

The main protagonist a writer and a humorist is obsessed with his lost love a Japanese woman, and a sombrero from a story he wrote.
He clearly explains his obsession with her and particularly a strand of her hair in this excerpt.

“A huge sigh hurricaned his body and then he sat down on the couch. He tried to sort it all out. She was a thousand pieces of a puzzle tumbling around in his mind as if they were in a dryer in a Laundromat.
For a few moments his mind was simultaneously the past, the present and the future, and there was no form to his thoughts about her. The her hair began to emerge as a dominate theme in his grief. He had always loved her hair. It was somewhat of an obsession with him. Thoughts of her hair, how long and dark and hypnotic it was, began to put pieces of the puzzle together until he was remembering the first time he met her.”

AND

“To some men the most beautiful sight in this world is a sleeping Japanese woman. The sight of her long black hair floating beside her like dark lilies makes them want to die and be transported to a paradise that is filled with sleeping Japanese women who never wake but sleep on for all time, dreaming beautiful dreams.
Yukiko could easily have been the queen of such a paradise and reigned perfectly and majestically over a million sleeping Japanese women from horizon to horizon.”

He points out a few facts about this strange sombrero in this excerpt from this novel.


“1. It fell out of the sky.
2. It is size 7 ¼.
3. It is very cold.
Here are a few more details about the sombrero that should be of some use:
4. The sombrero is black.
5. It is know that the sombrero is very cold but the exact temperature has not been revealed before. Here it is: The temperature of the sombrero 24 degrees below zero.
6. That’s a cold sombrero.
7. Especially when the temperature in the street is 81 and the sombrero’s temperature stays at 24 below. It is not affected by the sun.
8. That makes it a very different sombrero.”

Also he adds later
“1. It was not made in Mexico.
2. Yes, it did belong to somebody but they were very faraway.”

From a sombrero to an obsession with a beautiful Japanese woman and her strand of hair to a fear of tuna.

“Why did the American humorist have such a big problem with tuna fish? The answer is quite simple: fear. He was afraid of it. He was thirty-eight years old and afraid of tuna fish. Its that simple. The reason for the fear was mercury”

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 17 August 2012

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