Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Title: In Watermelon Sugar
Author: Richard Brautigan
The narrator of In Watermelon Sugar doesn't have a constant name; it changes from person to person what he is called. This is just one aspect of what makes him a little more hermetic than the rest of the residents of Watermelon Sugar, and the town of iDeath. A place that is kind of a paradise, where the sun shines a different colour every day, everything is made from the watermelons and the watermelon sugar. Everybody makes sculptures, and there is a good community spirit in iDeath. Yet the narrator doesn't entirely fit in, so he has decided to write a book, about life In Watermelon Sugar.
This is that book, a series of encounters - how is relationship is going, how he gets on with his friends, the problems he has with his ex-girlfriend. With the ex-girlfriend we find that actually everything isn't ideal. This leads us to a suggestion that perhaps this is a post-apocalyptic world, the past is heaped up in the Forgotten Works. A place where the more contrary members of the community had made their home.
Like most of Brautigan's work In Watermelon sugar is a slight book, less than 200 pages. Playing around with structure, so that there are chapters that are little more than a paragraph long. Something which contributes to the dreamy unreality of his work, enhancing the odd ideas that one encounters here, the fractions of reality, the little things that build up to make his stories seductive. Though again part of the appeal is the melancholy, that balances and contrasts the whimsy. There is a darkness, that for all the colour and character of In Watermelon Sugar gets under the skin in the end.
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