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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