The Tokyo Montana Express
The Tokyo Montana Express is only the second book by Richard Brautigan that I’ve read, I’ve got another to read lined up The Hawkline Monster, although I’m not too sure when I’ll get to that book. The Tokyo Montana Express was published in 1980 and looking at the photograph of Brautigan on the back jacket seated in a boat in Japan, with Shiina Takako, (photograph by Nakai Keisuke), made me contemplate how much has changed in the literary world in thirty years, quite abit. Brautigan is the subject of a new biography by William Hjortsberg entitled Jubilee Hitchhiker published by Counterpoint, a book I hope to read eventual. The Tokyo Montana Express is a book of fragments and sketches all situated between, you guess it, Tokyo and Montana, some are read as short fictional pieces and some could be read as being taken straight from Brautigan’s own experience, almost appearing like diary entries, although I guess they are all presented as fictional narratives, many of them show Brautigan’s humouristic exasperation of the world around him.
Recently looking at Murakami Haruki’s wiki entry it mentions that Murakami read Brautigan, and theres quite a few titles to these fragments that sound like they could quite easily slip into a collection by Murakami, Brautigan’s narratives manage to find associations in seemingly unrelated objects or scenarios. Brautigan’s pieces depict the same sort of loneliness found in some of Murakami’s shorter fiction, The Irrevocable Sadness of Her Thank You, has as it’s setting a busy Tokyo train, where the narrator becomes entranced to a degree by a woman, who after seating at a seat that becomes available thanks him in English, the narrator has been meticulously studying her plain appearance, but the ‘thank you’ resonates with a deep life affirming sadness. The narratives dip in and out of different scenes in Tokyo and Montana, the Montana ones evoke the bitterly cold landscape of the place in winter, a group of children venturing out posting invitations to the local church, buying deficient light bulbs, most set in the everyday are reflective in nature. Another aspect of Brautigan’s narratives is their uncanny ability to depict the things in life that escape us, or aspects of reality that continue to exists without the need of us acknowledging them, sadly I think the book is out of print at the moment.