Monday, September 27, 2004

File Under Library Geek Popcult 

If you live near Burlington, VT, the Brautigan Library, an autonomous collection of unpublished manuscripts which resides atop the public Fletcher Free Library, seems worth checking out. [Link goes to top library blogger Jessamyn's personal account of a visit to the Barutigan -- ed.]

But go soon if you're going. According to today's Boston Globe article, the Fletcher needs the space for their ESL collection (who sets these priorities?), and Brautigan founder Todd Lockwood is planning a move to the actual San Francisco address that library namesake-and-author Richard Brautigan uses as setting for the novel "The Abortion," which takes places largely in a library that (sound familliar?) collects only unpublished works.

Why bother? How could any library geek not love a collection which by its very premise calls into question the canonical authority of both publishing and library collectionship? Which includes an original poetic manuscript vending machine? In which, in keeping with the library's bylaws, none of the chairs match? Jessamyn writes:
There is a set of meta-books here -- books about the library they are in. They consist of a few birthday books where people wrote in with stories, poetry, or reminiscences on the ocasion of Brautigan's birthday. The assemblages of papers were then made into their own books. There are also two Librarian Books in which the Brautigan Librarians [who are they?] record what happens during their days at work at the Brautigan Library. Often nothing much happens at all, sometimes the librarians just muse on other topics. Sometimes they report statistics: two visitors, one person used the poetry dispenser.

Myself, I love that the collection used to use mayo jars as bookends, at least until some illiterate punk dropped an eight year old jar over the balcony a couple years back and practically destroyed the place. The Globe dignifies this with a picture of a jar of Hellmann's Mayonnaise in a display case -- a photo, sadly, available only in the print edition.

And lovers of Brautigan himself should find the pilgrimage worth it: in addition to several hundred books, the collection displays include authorial memorabilia from typewriters to first editions to the author's own glasses.

Those who've not yet heard of this 60s icon are encouraged to begin their exploration with either the abovementioned meditation on material infocult or the excellently memoir-esque Trout Fishing In America. Or you could always check out fanweb the brautigan pages, or The Brautigan Bibliography plus+, a "definitive and comprehensive compilation of information about the life and works of Richard Brautigan" subjective-surprisingly hosted by newmedia guru John F. Barber, who was reviews editor at Kairos back when I published my review of The Future Does Not Compute" way back in my undergrad days.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:45 AM |

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