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This review is taken from PN Review 254, Volume 46 Number 6, July - August 2020.

Cover of So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away
Lauren WebbLost Language
So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away, Richard Brautigan (Canongate)
So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away is the last book Richard Brautigan wrote before his death. The story foreshadows a tragedy in the narrator’s childhood by using hindsight to ruminate over the choices that lead to a life-changing event:
So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away
Dust… American… Dust

This refrain, written after every chapter, separates the vignettes that hint at what could have been retained in this story of a premature loss of innocence. We experience the world through a character who embodies not only Brautigan’s childhood but the people who shaped it. This perspective inherently suits his paratactic, poetic style as he captures the trials of youth. The naive tone and terse sentences are peppered with abstract imagery, encouraging the reader to feel child-like with him, a companion in his voyage down memory lane.

So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away is the most recent of Brautigan’s novels to be reissued simultaneously with Hawkline Monster and Dreaming of Babylon as part of The Cannons collection by Canongate. Of the three, So the Wind most resembles the avant-garde approach to language found in Brautigan’s earlier works, most notably, Trout Fishing in America and A Confederate General from Big Sur. The unconventional imagery I refer to is exemplified in Trout Fishing, in which Brautigan describes the Pacific Northwest landscapes and his misadventures in San Francisco:
The sun was like a huge 50-cent piece that someone had poured kerosene on and then had lit with a match, and said, ‘Here, ...

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