K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > In Watermelon Sugar

In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan
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Oct 16, 10

bookshelves: 1001-core, favorites
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Read on October 15, 2010 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Remarkable imagination. At times funny yet dark overall. Poetic yet simple lines. One of the two books that I am planning to re-read again and again.

Richard Brautigan (1935-1984), born in Tacoma, Washington, wrote this novella only for around 60 days in 1964, the year I was born. However, this was only published in 1968. In Watermelon Sugar was his 3rd novel after he earlier got noticed with his first, A Confederate General From Big Sur and got catapulted to international fame with his second, Trout Fishing in America. These three books were published in the 60's at the height of Cold War, The Beatle's popularity, hippies and the Anti-Vietnam war movements. Brautigan was one of those young men who seemed to have been caught in the counterculture revolutions sweeping the youths in the 60's.

Like the other literary greats, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Hunter S. Thompson and Yukio Mishima, Richard Brautigan also committed suicide. Like Hemingway, he shot himself in the head. He was 49 years old. Someone has said: their minds are just too beautiful to age and rot in this world.

To date, I have already read around 340 books. Still, my favorite is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944). I did not know exactly why. I first read it in elementary school when I was 8 years old but was not able to finish it. I still remember the elephant inside the boa constrictor and I was scared but I heard stories of snakes swallowing whole chicken so I did not see any metaphor or allusion on that. The next time I read it was when I was in college and it was the first required reading in our World's Literature class. That was when I appreciated the whole story as we were required to go through the plot, theme, characters, quotes, lessons, etc.

For me, In Watermelon Sugar is the continuation of The Little Prince. Surreal settings. Ethereal characters. It is as if the child-like characters of Saint-Exupery became real people, grew up but continued to live not on their individual planets but this time in a make-believe world where Watermelon Works, Forgotten Works and iDeath were. Unlike the Little Prince who does not grow up or old, in Brautigan's novella, his quirky characters are dark, fall in love, fall out of love, cheat, cook and eat breakfast and commit suicide. But after burying their dead, they go to the plaza and dance their sadness away.

Brautigan taught me why I like De Saint-Exupery: some novels were written by authors for themselves. Perhaps they just would like to test the limit of their creativity. Perhaps during those 60 days, creative thoughts came rushing through Brautigan's brilliant mind and he had to write them.

Some authors would just only want us to watch their characters. To wonder about them. To cheer for them. But not be them. Their worlds will never be ours and those characters could never be us. They are the figments of their creators' fertile imagination. These brilliant novelists, most of them committed suicide, have minds that are too beautiful for us to understand. Their beauty are not for us to grasp and contain in our mortal minds.

Life imitates art. Most of their characters killed themselves. Like Brautigan's Margaret, INBOIL and his minions. Their are too beautiful to age and rot in this world of ours.
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Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by Teresa (last edited Oct 16, 2010 11:02AM) (new)

Teresa I've not read any Brautigan, but I too have had an almost life-long lengthy affinity with The Little Prince", especially enjoying it while sharing it with my children. I find this comparison of yours intriguing!


message 2: by K.D. (last edited Oct 16, 2010 04:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks for the like, Regine.

T, if you can grab a copy of this book, please do. My copy is a second hand and it is old, i.e., pages are already brittle. It's a short read. Some pages (chapters) are so short but they are so beautiful that I ended up reading the lines twice or even thrice. No big words but they seem to have full of meanings or craps (if you are not into this kind of genre, but I do not know how to call it). That's where my comparison to The Little Price comes in, I think. People can either see these novels as meaningful or crappy.

But the comparison ends there. In Watermelon Sugar is totally different because it is dark and there are no planets other than earth. Thank you for liking my review T.


message 3: by Teresa (new)

Teresa K.D. wrote: "Thanks for the like, Regine.

T, if you can grab a copy of this book, please do. My copy is a second hand and it is old, i.e., pages are already brittle. It's a short read. Some pages (chapters) ar..."


Thanks, K.D.! I've requested it from my library -- it sounds like my kind of thing.


Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly And I could have told you Vincent: this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.


message 5: by Emir Never (new)

Emir Never Kundera said characters in novels are not there for us to admire their values or morality, but rather for us to understand them. Can you understand the characters here? Or do they resist even that, understanding?


K.D. Absolutely Resist even understanding, Emir.

They are not even understandable or even beautiful. The characters who committed suicide in the story are not the lovable ones except Margaret (maybe). She collects forgetten things from the Forgotten World. That's the only lovable thing that she does and it is something that I do not even understand.

I almost said "exactly!" to that line of song, Joselito. It's just that given that those characters in the story are not lovable, I think that line applies more for the authors who committed suicide. Of course, I do not know yet the complete background why Hemingway, Woolf or Brautigan killed themselves but their works are definitely beautiful.


message 7: by Emir Never (new)

Emir Never K.D. wrote: "Resist even understanding, Emir."

Damn. That's doubly sad.


K.D. Absolutely It is a sad book. But it is definitely a great read!


message 9: by Emir Never (new)

Emir Never K.D. wrote: "It is a sad book. But it is definitely a great read!"

You wrote a great review so I'll look it up.


message 10: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely If you love The Little Prince and you are no longer in your teens, you will definitely love In Watermelon Sugar.


message 11: by Emir Never (new)

Emir Never I liked Prince and feel that I will like this more. We'll see.


message 12: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Let me know if you want to borrow so I can bring it on the 30th. Really, it is strangely nice!


message 13: by Emir Never (new)

Emir Never Yay, that'd be great!


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways For me, In Watermelon Sugar is the continuation of The Little Prince. Surreal settings. Ethereal characters. It is as if the child-like characters of Saint-Exupery became real people, grew up but continued to live not on their individual planets but this time in a make-believe world where Watermelon Works, Forgotten Works and iDeath were.

Beautifully, beautifully said, KD. Bravo!


message 15: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Are you serious, Richard? :)


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways I never flatter, I only compliment.


message 17: by K.D. (last edited Dec 20, 2011 04:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Ah, okay. :) Then, thank you!!!
I am not really confident of my writing, that's why. I am writing for myself really. When I am dead, I'd like to imagine that my daughter or her children will be happy reading what I thought about the books that I read and commented on. That's why my reviews are not really the proper book reviews that I learned from college literature course. They are like ramblings by an old man ha ha. When I see someone (whose taste on books I admire) liked my review, especially if it is an old review, I re-read it and see why that somebody liked it. So, when I saw this notification that you liked this review and after re-reading it, I thought it was not really a nice one ha ha. So, that question.
Again, thank you!!! Coming from you, awesome :)


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways I think the best book reviews are done for one's own self, not for An Audience, and they're more likely to speak to a large audience that way. Funny...we write a really personal response to something, and people suddenly turn up all over the place saying how much they liked it!

Your English writing is excellent. Clear, concise, and clever. I don't speak Tagalog, so I don't have anything to say about that writing...but I expect it's as good, or better.


message 19: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Richard !!! I use Tagalog everyday even in the office. We only speak in English when we talk to the teacher (in school) or when talking to foreigners. But I still prefer reading books in English and watching English movies and songs. I do these mostly for me to improve my English and to know other cultures.

However, I keep abreast of what's going in the local scene so I also read Tagalog books, see Tagalog movies and hear Tagalog songs. We need to support our local artists by patronizing them.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways Agreed. I even watch Tagalog gay-themed movies (subtitled, of course), because if we don't buy and consume what artists produce, they stop producing it.


message 21: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Which Tagalog gay-themed movie did you see?


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways "Showboyz" was one, and "Sagwan" was another...there was one other one here lately, but the title is elusive now.


message 23: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Oh I have not heard about those indie movies, Richard. My favorite gay themed Tagalog films are: "Macho Dancer" by Lino Brocka and "Facifica Falayfay" starring Dolphy. They are considered classics now.


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