Richard Brautigan’s Story, ‘One Afternoon in 1939,’ Read From a Wooden Spool

Today is the birth­day of Richard Brauti­gan, whose fun­ny and imag­i­na­tive books were a touch­stone for the 1960s coun­ter­cul­ture and have remained an inspi­ra­tion to free spir­its ever since. He would have been 77.

In this video, uploaded to the Inter­net exact­ly a year ago, Ianthe Brauti­gan Swensen reads her father’s sto­ry, “One After­noon in 1939,” from his col­lec­tion Revenge of the Lawn. Ianthe was one year old in 1961 when her father sat down with a portable type­writer on a fam­i­ly camp­ing trip to write his most famous work, Trout Fish­ing in Amer­i­ca, and she was 24 when he took his own life in 1984. Now she’s a writer and a teacher.

In 2001 Brauti­gan Swensen pub­lished You Can’t Catch Death: A Daugh­ter’s Mem­oir about her life with a dif­fi­cult but lov­ing father who liked to take her with him to his favorite San Fran­cis­co haunts dur­ing the 60s. “When I’m here,” she told the San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle on a vis­it to the city in 2000, “I still feel my father walk­ing the streets, I still feel my hand in his. And that’s a very hap­py feel­ing.”

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