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Charles Casey's review of Sombrero Fallout
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A Zazy, Three-Stage Plot Under One Sombrero

by Charles Casey?

This novel, which was published simultaneously in Japan and America, offers more than the traditional Brautigan entertainment. It offers a glimpse of the author as well.

Sombrero Fallout has three storylines, only two of which appear to be related. Brautigan fans will immediately sense a change in this novel, while the author often experiments with two or more plots, he generally brings them together at the end, something he fails to do here.

One plot revolves around an ice-cold sombrero that falls from the sky into a dusty street in a small Southwestern town. Somehow, this hat becomes the center of a riot that leads bloodthirsty citizens to kill police and eventually tangle with the U.S. Army.

Meanwhile, other chapters collated into this interesting sequence describe the lovesick yearnings of a famous American humor writer who actually has no sense of humor. Most likely this humorless humor writer is none other than Richard Brautigan. His descriptions are so zanily true to life they appear to be fresh memories.

Our author is bemoaning the loss of his romantic interest of two years, a Japanese woman whose actions, or rather non-actions, can be viewed as the third storyline. While the writer's mind is tumbling through chapters of jealous fantasies and cravings for, among other things, a tuna fish sandwich, the object of his yearning is sleeping and dreaming. Perhaps the sombrero symbolizes this person who has unwittingly become the focus for a kaleidoscope of emotions.

We learn that she is a psychiatric worker in a San Francisco hospital. We are surprised to find that she meets her biggest basket case after work - none other than that same American humor writer who now spends his evenings longing for her.

Whether or not Brautigan has projected himself into this novel, he has written another delightful book. The style of short chapters and glowing humor is typical of a Brautigan novel; its touchingly funny moments and its interesting experimentation make it one of his best.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch
January 16, 1977: 4B


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