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Willard And His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery
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Willard And His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,601 ratings  ·  90 reviews
The story takes place in San Francisco, California in the early 1970s. The title character is a papier mache bird that shares the front room of a San Francisco apartment with a collection of bowling trophies that some time earlier were stolen from the home of the Logan brothers. The human tenants of this apartment are John and Pat, who have just returned from seeing a Gret ...more
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Published by Simon & Schuster (first published 1975)
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
This is short, easy to read, entertaining and presents a different style of writing. The characters look comical, the plot is sparse but imaginative. Was this easy to write? I don't know. But why was this not easy to put down once I started reading it? For two reasons I think: first, I was eager to find out what the point was, thinking maybe there'll be a really surprising denouement in the end; and second, there was a consistent feeling of accomplishment as almost all chapters one can finish re ...more
Chris Clark
If you enjoy bowling, tragic absurdity, and vivid descriptions of genital warts, this is for you. Personally, I can never get enough of Brautigan.

This work shares many of Brautigan’s central themes. Characters trying to exert control over their lives (in this case, through searching for stolen bowling trophies and reading Greek poetry), an obsession with disillusionment, a retreat from life. It’s been noted that Brautigan falls within the “how-to” tradition of American literature (Walden, Moby D
...more
Vit Babenco
“Willard was a papier-mâché bird about three feet tall with long black legs and a partially black body covered with a strange red, white and blue design like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and Willard had an exotic beak like a stork. His bowling trophies were of course stolen.”
The novel has a subtitle – A Perverse Mystery – and this at once catches a zeitgeist of the era it was written in and tells about. All that happens boasts a highest degree of absurdity and all the heroes are antiheroes.
...more
Jesse
Richard Brautigan is a secret of American skill. Reading Willard and his Bowling Trophies, a one-hundred page nothing of sarcastic analysis of the American sex-life, I can only wonder why I'm not studying Brautigan alongsides the likes of Vonnegut and O'Brien; his style of characteristic half-truths intercepted by implausible irony and sprinkled with absurd humor reminds one and often blows away previous works of satiric beauty.

Though without the maddening meta-writing, mind-blowingly good self-
...more
Ben Loory
most brautigan books are about 70% funny/joyous, and 30% heartbreakingly sad. this one flips that around to 80% heartbreakingly sad and 20% life-is-utterly-absurd. it's still fun (somehow??) and energetic and totally out of its mind but still bizarrely coherent, and the metaphors are still amazing, but man... it's tough going sometimes.

"It always happened this way: After he came his penis would slowly soften inside of her and their bodies would be very quiet together like two haunted houses star
...more
Mark
A Selection of Quotes:

"'The dice of Love are madnesses and melees.'"

"No beards."

"RRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIINNNNNNNNGGGGGGGG!!!"

"They were hollow points. They would tear a nice hole in you and provide you with enough death to last forever."

"Willard of course always stayed the same: a papier-mâché bird surrounded by his bowling trophies."
George
Τον Δεκέμβριο του 2013 διάβασα για πρώτη φορά Μπρότιγκαν, συγκεκριμένα το παράξενο και θεόμουρλο γοτθικό γουέστερν φαντασίας "Το τέρας των Χώκλιν", το οποίο απόλαυσα για την κουφή ιστορία του και την απίθανη γραφή του. Η μικρή νουβέλα που μόλις τελείωσα, αν και χωρίς ίχνος φανταστικού, μου φάνηκε εξίσου παράξενη, θεόμουρλη και απολαυστική.

Όσον αφορά την πλοκή, από την μια έχουμε τον Μπομπ και την Κόστανς, που, ελέω κονδυλωμάτων, παίζουν το παιχνίδι της "Ιστορίας της Ο", προσπαθώντας να ξεπεράσου
...more
Chrisl
My token Brautigan. He was one of those marginal demand authors that I sometimes bought for the library. Unique stories, short and not memorable. (These 3- star stories I'm leaving in the collection likely have a nostalgia component or are possible rereads. My own bowling trophies long since gone to the landfill with one token exception.)
Ser
I really enjoyed this. After a shaky S&M beginning, where I wasn’t sure I was reading the correct book, I totally fell for it. Actually the failed bondage episodes are probably my favourite: they are sad, embarrassing and almost adorable. One thing is sure: they are anything but erotic. I totally fell in love with the older couple. Poor woman, that scene where she asks for a glass of water and gets a peanut butter sandwich instead probably sums up the state of their relationship pretty well. ...more
Eric T. Voigt Voigt
I didn't finish a book all Spring. Richard Brautigan is the only thing I can deal with. He's hilarious and kooky. Exciting. Nuts. Have I talked about how I stayed away from his work intentionally for petty reasons? I think that wound up being a really good thing. I'm ready for Brautigan. It is the time for Brautigan to reach me. Shout outs to Kaity Jane who beat me to the punch, starting and finishing the book while I was still reading. Who saw that coming? Quotes! from pages 72 and 147 respecti ...more
Caris
Willard is chilling with his bowling trophies, doing all the cool things a paper mache bird does.

Bob has lost his mind because of the venereal disease Constance gave him after cheating on him with a lawyer. He is very careful not to pass the disease back to her because he loves her so much and can't stand the idea, but he can't remember why he is standing in front of the refrigerator.

John and Pat live below Bob and Constance, stole their apartment number, and eat turkey sandwiches in bed. Pat pr
...more
Allison
My first Brautigan.

The tale delighted, reading like a children's bedtime story with adult words... Then in one, single, lone, last page, I found myself horrified, distraught, and wounded. As I flipped through the closing blank pages in my copy with disbelief, my guilt nagged me because I allowed myself to read it like it was simply a story, without fully appreciating the literary flesh and blood of Bob and Constance. I still feel (though of course this was hardly the case) that I was the cause
...more
Susan Sloan
Surreal, comedic, melancholic and with an air of zen stories or haikus in it's poetic brevity.
R.
I copied off this entire book on the public copy machine at Safeway (its out of print) for a girl who was (is) into the Brautigan ouevre. Don't get me wrong. The book, itself, is not an ode to romance or soft emotions. It's got a ridiculous plot and takes dead aim at a relationship that has become nothing more than a deviant, disease-riddled sex game.
Sarah
Dec 16, 2012 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Dude
Made me realize there's something that divides depressing books into two groups. Either they are sad because they are about sad things (and are kind of comforting) or because the author himself was so entirely sad while writing the book that his sadness invaded even the smallest, most inconsequential particle and spread throughout. Secondary viremia.
Deanne
Short read but lots of fun, the book could even have been longer. Most of the story deals with the lead up to a crime, which is the result of the theft of the bowling trophies. Enter the Logan brothers, all american boys who seem to spiral out of control, they seem like a comic trio of criminals. Worth the few hours it takes to read.
Rachael
Only Richard Brautigan could get me to read gag-inducing paragraphs of awkward sexual moments and detailed descriptions of genital warts.
Nick Craske
Quirky succint novella rich with philosophical and existential themes. Both sad and funny. Yep.
Eric
Willard and His Bowling Trophies is most definitely perverse but far from a mystery (except why it is on the list of 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die). I believe this is one of the more useless and meaningless books I have ever read. I am forced by Goodreads to give it one star. It easily qualifies for zero stars. The 1,001 reviewer writes that Willard leaves the reader breathless, mesmerized, and laughing. I was disgusted, perplexed, and dazed. The sole saving grace was that it was a short no ...more
Brian
Strangers would come into the room and say, "My God, what's that?" pointing at Willard and his bowling trophies.

"That's Willard and his bowling trophies," was always the reply.

"Willard and his what?"

"Bowling trophies."

"You mean bowling trophies?"

"Yeah, bowling trophies."

"What's he doing with them?"

"Why not?"


Constance and Bob live upstairs. Bob likes reading ancient Greek poetry and while reenacting scenes from The Story of O with Constance. Pat and John live downstairs. They live with Willard, a
...more
Frank
This book reminded me of a Coen Brothers movie. Very bizarre and perverse as the title implies. The story is about two couples and three brothers. One couple has a very perverse sex life - participating in sadomasochistic fantasies because genital warts have prevented them from a once normal sex life. The other couple has a healthy relationship and in their apartment (which is downstairs from the first couple) is the titular Willard, a papier-mâché bird, and his bowling trophies. These trophies ...more
Jonathan Ball
This book really fizzles near the end, as does Brautigan’s The Hawkline Monster. But because it’s Brautigan, the books is full of intelligence, wit, and great writing. Brautigan is the master of simple, stunning, clever sentences that seem to lie flat but upon closer inspection are full of sadness and satire:

The Logan brothers had a good life because they were doing exactly what they wanted to do and they had their bowling trophies to show how good they were at their life. (51)

Where Brautigan sh
...more
Michael Palkowski
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John G.
This is my first experience with Brautigan, found it via a book lover's club exchange. I've never read anything else quite like it. Sad, scary, disturbing and darkly comic.
Kaitlin
extra hilarious, super quick read from a contemporary author in the early 80s. highly recommend. good to the last page.
Bar Shirtcliff
I was disappointed by this book. It shouldn't even share a shelf with the Hawkline Monster. I suppose I would have given three and a half stars to another author, but, I expect better of Brautigan.

The style is familiar: the sentences are short and punchy, but the pace isn't right, and the funny surprises were rarely funny and never very surprising. This book barely made me laugh. The bowling-trophy seekers don't have enough steady interactions with others to bring them out, so that part of the s
...more
Jeffrey Bumiller
An Interesting book that stradles the line between absurdity and great sadness.
Helen
This just gets better with every reading ( this was the 28th time )- and I still cry because of Bob and the spaghetti bread, and I still cry at the ending... Beautiful writing.'He disappeared back into the swirls of ghostly time , taking with him a photographic impression of Willard and his bowling trophies to be joined visually with the rest of American history because it is very important for Willard and his bowling trophies to be a part of everything that has ever happened in this land of Ame ...more
Lisa Ann Gallagher
One of Brautigan's lesser known books, but one that I always particularly liked. Three stories tied up in one: A couple in San Francisco having kinky sex after the woman overcomes genital warts but passes them on to her husband who loses his mind, their upstairs neighbors who wind up with a strange collection of bowling trophies and a paper-mache bird named Willard, and the three brothers who want to find their stolen bowling trophies. It's a tragedy. It's Brautigan. I definitely recommend it.
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Richard Brautigan was a 20th century American writer. His novels and stories often have to do with black comedy, parody, satire, and Zen Buddhism. He is probably best known for his novel Trout Fishing in America. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1984.

More about Richard Brautigan...
Trout Fishing in America / The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster / In Watermelon Sugar In Watermelon Sugar Trout Fishing in America The Abortion The Hawkline Monster

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