So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away is a "novel" by Richard Brautigan. It was published in 1982, not so long before he switched himself off in 1984.

If you're familiar with In Watermelon Sugar or The Abortion or the one everybody's read, this one isn't much like those. It's more of a straight narrative than Trout Fishing and it's a hell of a lot more normal than Watermelon Sugar. On the other hand, he digresses the same way and he writes in the same deadpan tone, which I think in the end turned out not to be what a lot of people thought it was. I think he was trying very hard to keep a lot of things at arm's length while he looked them over, but I might be wrong.

For some strange reason he couldn't accept that the Big Dipper looked like a big dipper, but at least he wasn't in jail for stealing cars.


The story is about Brautigan's childhood in the Pacific Northwest. He grew up without very much, in unstable circumstances, mostly rural. In these pages he fishes and he has a bicycle and a .22 rifle like a lot of kids. He spends his time outside as much as he can, out in the woods or collecting nightcrawlers in the yard with a flashlight at night, for bait. There's an undertaker's memorably mysterious daughter, one of many temporary neighbors.

He's out in front about narrating this from middle age, and he throws in some digressions about Then and Now, lost innocence, etc. etc. He's usually got something to say worth hearing, or at the very least something dumb said well enough to be worth reading anyway, so it moves along.

There's a wonderful, obese middle-aged couple who drive their truck every evening to the pond where young Brautigan fishes. He never speaks to them. They unload a lamp, a couch, an end table, and a stove. They cook their dinner on the stove: Kraft Dinner, hamburgers, and canned pears, every night. They call each other "Mother" and "Father". They eat, and they sit on the couch and fish. They're presented as a jolly and fun pair, but really, imagine living your life like that. To live with that one nightmare for forty years ought to be enough by itself to drive a person to drastic measures. There's more, though.

The whole book dances maddeningly around the fact that young Brautigan -- or some fictional child, if it's really fiction -- went out shooting apples one day in an apple orchard with a friend, with their .22s. While they were separated in the trees and couldn't see each other, he accidentally shot this friend in the neck and killed him. The police believe that it's an accident, but of course the strange kid with a single mother wins no love that way from the neighbors. He and his mother leave town again (again, another new town, all over again).

At the end, he pictures Mother and Father dishing up the Kraft Dinner and wondering where "that kid" went, who used to sit across the pond and watch them fishing and eating. He overplays the scene a little bit, but it's a good ending.

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