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Books in Brief: Five Novels | Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novelby Thomas R. Edwards?
In Richard Brautigan's Sombrero Fallout, "a very well-known American humorist" tries to write about a small town's eruption into bloody riot when a weird hat falls from the sky. Then the story is discarded (it, however, keeps writing itself in the wastebasket) as he turns to tender reminiscences of his lost Japanese girlfriend and anxieties about food and literary reputation. As a Barthelme-like exercise in discontinuous modes, lyrical, topical, and confessional, the book is amusing but somehow self-cancelling. The parable about mindless public violence is too harmlessly droll, the love story too sentimental, the portrait of the artist too routinely self-loathing. Remembering Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America, I would be glad to like Sombrero Fallout better, but his charm seems to be increasingly calculated.
Harper's Magazine 253(1417)
October 1976: 100
Note: The above is an excerpt from a longer article which includes reviews of Bear by Marian Engel, The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan, Flight to Canada by Ishmael Reed and The Widow's Children by Paula Fox.
Reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 12. Ed. Dedria Bryfonski. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1980. 57-74.