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In Watermelon Sugar

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  12,702 ratings  ·  974 reviews
iDEATH is a place where the sun shines a different colour every day and where people travel to the length of their dreams. Rejecting the violence and hate of the old gang at the Forgotten Works, they lead gentle lives in watermelon sugar. In this book, Richard Brautigan discovers and expresses the mood of the counterculture generation.
Paperback, 142 pages
Published 2002 by Vintage (first published 1968)
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Lisa "MeMa" Perez I had never heard of Brautigan and was given this book as a reading suggestion from a poet. I am so grateful that I've been awakened to colorful days …moreI had never heard of Brautigan and was given this book as a reading suggestion from a poet. I am so grateful that I've been awakened to colorful days in the company of trout, drifting upstream. The best books sadly have no equal. They come over bridges and light the way with lanterns. That's what makes great literature...well, great.(less)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
393. In Watermelon Sugar, Richard Brautigan
In Watermelon Sugar is an American post-apocalyptic novel by Richard Brautigan written in 1964 and published in 1968. Set in the aftermath of a fallen civilization, it focuses on a commune organized around a central gathering house which is named "iDEATH". In this environment, many things are made of watermelon sugar (though the inhabitants also use pine wood and stone for building material and fuel made from trout oil). The landscape of the novel is co
Mar 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I almost can't believe how dazzling this book is. In Watermelon Sugar is 138 pages long — many of which are half pages at best — and yet manages to whip up a stunning, strange, surreal little world, full of sad, sweet characters and shockingly beautiful images.

It's the simplest little story: two lovers, a scorned ex-girlfriend, an old-timer who lights the lanterns on the bridges, a chef who cooks nothing but carrots. The whole book takes place in a few days, in a tiny little town where everythi
Bizarre and surreal pretty much sums this up and I know many people see this as utopian, a Garden of Eden setting in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic world. Brautigan indicated that Bolinas, the town in California where he lived for a while, provided something of a template. It is notoriously reclusive and the abode of poets, artists and ecologists.
The commune is called iDEATH and the narrator has a shack nearby and a room in the commune. There's his girlfriend Pauline, an ex-girlfriend Marg
Mario the lone bookwolf
One of the worst books I have ever read, completely overrated, this seems to be one of these cases of a too subtle, culturally important, snob, hyped by pseudo-intellectuals novels without any real worth. Don´t read it, it will disappoint, it makes no sense, it has no plot, red line, inner logic, is instead full of inconsistency, nothing, I was really disappointed after reading it. I see the same thing happen in movies too when the general public loves a great, "just" entertaining masterpiece an ...more
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Softly we are Richard Brautigan and we have nothing to do with hippies and we fish for trout and keep some of the trout in there because we are Richard and we like to look at them. It suits us to have this mustache and to touch it periodically like one might touch a butterfly sitting there and wipe the crumbs away from something special that we have just eaten and enjoyed.
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the hippie world life obeys its own laws. And those who live in a watermelon fairytale are lucky because watermelon sugar is a universal stuff that can serve all purposes in life and satisfy all far-out wishes.
I once had a dream about the aqueduct being a musical instrument filled with water and bells hanging by small watermelon chains right at the top of the water and the water making the bells ring.

There’s no need to bother for food either…
Al cooked up a mess of carrots again. He broiled t
Mar 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is hands down my favorite book of all time. I wish I could give it more stars than five. It's written by a beat poet but sometimes feels more like Science Fiction crossed with stream of consciousness.
The first line of the book "In Watermelon Sugar, the deeds were done and done again, as my life is done in Watermelon Sugar." sets the mood of the book.
You're never really sure if it's all happening on Earth but in a different time or just in the mind of the author. The sun shines a different
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Rustic Utopia

This is Richard Brautigan at his most sugar-coated and romantic.

"In Watermelon Sugar" has been described as a post-apocalyptic novel, although there's no express mention of an apocalypse in the text.

It's set in a rustic town or village that might be called Watermelon Sugar.

If anything, it's more Arcadian or Utopian, even if there is a dispute between the townsfolk, on the one hand, and inBoil and his no good gang of followers, on the other hand.

The Raw Materials

The novel abounds w
Rebecca McNutt
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy, poetry
In Watermelon Sugar serves as a kind of free-verse poetry, and it's one of the strangest but ultimately most wonderful books of poetry I've ever read. Bleakly nostalgic and bittersweet, it's a thought-provoking work, but one that as a reader it's best not to try and think too hard about, and instead to be immersed in. It's a surreal and quite off-beat work, and it certainly won't appeal to every reader, but In Watermelon Sugar captures in a memorable way perhaps the substance and depth of nothin ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, favorites
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, T
Glenn Russell

What if the opening line of Richard Brautigan's novella read, "In hard drugs the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in hard drugs," rather than " In watermelon sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar," setting the tone for "hard drugs" replacing "watermelon sugar" throughout?

I just did finish my second read through the novella as well as listening to the audio book. One thing is for sure - if we see watermelon sugar as a hard drug - heroin,
Emily B
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This quote hit me

‘Everything is reflected in the statue of mirrors if you stand there long enough and empty your mind of everything else but the mirrors, and you must be careful not to want anything from the mirrors. They just have to happen.
An hour or so passed as my mind drained out. Some people cannot see anything in the statue of mirrors, not even themselves’
Brent Legault
Oct 23, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pies in the skies, candyland lovers
This is the book that made me realize that Brautigan was a sham writer. I had my suspicions after reading Revenge of the Lawn and Trout Fishing in America, but this one put him forever in my private slush pile. I don't understand the reputation that has been handed him and I don't think he deserves it for the folderal he manufactured. His poetry is all right, at least I remember The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster as not entirely without worth. Some of it makes me laugh at least. But hi ...more
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ideath inhabitants
I was absolutely besotted with this book and now I can't remember why, but I carried it around with me in high school and just thumbed through it and soaked it up. I suppose it was everything I wanted, but couldn't have - freedom on all levels for a small-town girl stuck in a small school full of small people. This was my mantra for escape and it opened up many doors - some good and some bad, but all leading to the same right place and that was my own mind and my own opinions. For that alone, I ...more
A short, but beautiful novel. Or is it poetry?
The overall feeling is sadness and loss, the book makes you ache for things and people you don’t know. It’s obvious why it is on the 1001 books list.
I’m pretty sure I’ll reread this one more than once.
This book is not for too rational people who dislike symbolism, fantasy or fairytales.
To all the others I say ‘you won’t regret visiting ‘watermelon sugar’ ‘
Nadine Larter
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Definitely one of the strangest but most original books I have ever read. Strange that it is such an old story when it seems so contemporary. I can't quite explain the absolute weirdness of it. It's sort of a book about the writing of the book itself. Usually I find that kind of thing quite obnoxious but it just worked with this one. To the character Margaret: I loved you the most. To the unnamed narrator: you chose the wrong girl.
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, brautigan
Sad, strange beauty, like staring at a silent black stone thrown into the stream, and the circles which follow, soundless.
Jun 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a friend and I read this book aloud to one another in the hallway of a dilapidated residence hotel over a few hours. after whcih, whatever was broken in my imagination was amiably mended..
Abby Hagler
I return to this book a lot. Recently, I think I offended a friend by being nosy about their previous name before they legally changed it. I read this chapter and mulled over my mistake:


I guess you are kind of curious as to who I am, but I am one of those who do not have a regular name. My name depends on you. Just call me whatever is in your mind.
If you are thinking about something that happened a long time ago: Somebody asked you a question and you did not know the answer.
That is my
Ben Loory
Dec 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ben by: Jonathan
this should really be 4.5 stars because i think the very last page is wrong... or stops just a second shy of where it should. i'm still hanging there, waiting for what must necessarily follow........ right? right, richard? right?

in any case, this is a pretty great book. it's brautigan poem-world in the guise of some kind of post-apocalyptic hippie nightmare-fantasyland. takes a little while to adjust to it, it kinda just throws you in, and the adjustment period is a little traumatic, what with i
Jr Bacdayan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 29, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: other lit posers
Recommended to Mon by: lit posers
Shelves: po-mo
The rating is much harder than the actual book. The process of critical assessment is far too logical for this madly surreal, withdrawn, disassociated schizoid novella. You can compare it to a high-brow indie cross-genre EP on Pitchfock, completely incomprehensible but pretty nonetheless. I don't understand any of it, but here's a bunch of artwork that sort of look like the visual imagery, if it can be compared to anything else.

Owl by David Noonan

or make myself a space to inhabit too by Del Kar
نیلوفر رحمانیان
What can i say when a book is just simply perfect. And it was written in just 2 months. I love How everything is a sign in the book, how everything has been deconstructed. How everything is empty of meaning in iDEATH yet full of meaning to the reader. The history, the originality, the nature being burned and forgotten, how minority is rejected totally and even their roar is treated by silence. How the only way to remind people of the truth is self destruction and how even it can not help a thing ...more
Nate D
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: trout
Recommended to Nate D by: Forgotten Works
Reads with odd smoothness, going down like watermelon sugar. But that easy flow of words disguises something dark and bitter, something that creeps up over the narrative no matter to what degree the characters disavow that anything could be wrong with their minimal, controlled world of statues, rivers, bridges, and watermelon. Singular American weird -- I should have gotten around to this one ages ago.
Cry. Laugh. Cry and laugh. The sentences are written simply and they convey emotions both simple and awfully complicated. The story is deliberately strange and surreal but within it lies some odd reliability. The characters come across as being mildly detached and alien, but they still feel pain and love. Brautigan creates a whole new world in a hundred pages and it's breathtaking, funny, groundbreaking, depressing, and bleakly beautiful. It's like nothing else...and it's fucking perfect.
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
6/2016 Yes. Again, and always. Water in the desert, this.

12/2015 My boy brought this to me tonight because he was certain I needed it. Oh, how right he was.

1/2012 This one is a touchstone for me, and I'm not sure exactly why. Perhaps because it is so very gentle, so loving, so open. Ostensibly, it's a few days in a commune in some mythical world that used to have beautiful, man-eating, talking tigers. A world where everything is made from watermelon sugar. But it's always struck me as a meditat
Breathtakingly original, this surrealist short novel by Brautigan was like reading about a perfect acid or mushroom trip - perfect in the sense that there is no paranoia or upset stomach.

In this story, people live in Watermelon Sugar and many objects, such as planks and even windows, are made out of (golden) watermelon sugar. People are buried in tombs on the bottom of trout-filled rivers and there is a place called The Forgotten Works where all the forgotten things lie piled up for millions of
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The weirdest book I've ever read!
May 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Well, I've got to get back to work," Fred said. "The plank press calls. What are you going to do?"
"I think I'll go write," I said. "Work on my book for a while."
"That sounds ambitious," Fred said. "Is the book about weather like the schoolteacher said?"
"No, it's not about weather."
"Good," Fred said. "I wouldn't want to read a book about weather."
"Have you ever read a book?" I said.
"No," Fred said. "I haven't, but I don't think I'd want to start by reading one about clouds."
Oct 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
A trippy and absurd novella about the commune of iDEATH. Elements of the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve & Lilith. Plenty of trouts, trout hatcheries, watermelons, talking tigers, river tombs and post-apocalyptic communal breakfasts. I think this is going to be my last Brautigan for awhile, but it was still nice to see someone play boldly with the novel form. ...more
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Reading 1001: In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan 1 11 Jan 18, 2020 01:01PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Book Cover Please 3 24 Sep 17, 2019 01:51AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Page Numbers Needed 2 14 Sep 01, 2019 05:58PM  
Hume-Fogg Readers: In Watermelon Sugar 1 3 May 09, 2018 03:44PM  
Wonder what would have happened...if 3 77 Jan 15, 2014 03:50AM  
اطلاعات 1 23 May 18, 2008 11:35PM  

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Richard Brautigan was an American novelist, poet, and short-story writer. Born in Tacoma, Washington, he moved to San Francisco in the 1950s and began publishing poetry in 1957. He started writing novels in 1961 and is probably best known for his early work Trout Fishing in America. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1984. ...more

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“I'll tell you about it because I am here and you are distant.” 155 likes
“My Name

“I guess you are kind of curious as to who I am, but I am one of those who do not have a regular name. My name depends on you. Just call me whatever is in your mind.
If you are thinking about something that happened a long time ago: Somebody asked you a question and you did not know the answer.
That is my name.
Perhaps it was raining very hard.
That is my name.
Or somebody wanted you to do something. You did it. Then they told you what you did was wrong—“Sorry for the mistake,”—and you had to do something else.
That is my name.
Perhaps it was a game you played when you were a child or something that came idly into your mind when you were old and sitting in a chair near the window.
That is my name.
Or you walked someplace. There were flowers all around.
That is my name.
Perhaps you stared into a river. There as something near you who loved you. They were about to touch you. You could feel this before it happened. Then it happened.
That is my name.”
More quotes…