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Enter, Pursued by a Bear | Sombrero Falloutby Victoria Glendinning?
The central figure of Richard Brautigan's Sombrero Fallout is a humorist with no sense of humour who has been deserted by his Japanese girl-friend. He remembers their lovemaking, and mourns over one of her long black hairs. Crosscut with this, with deadpan surrealism, is the tale of a national holocaust which stemmed from a sombrero that fell from outer space in a small town; the humorist tore up the story when grief struck, but it goes on writing itself in the waste-paper basket. The chapters are very short. There are a lot of half-blank pages. It is most unsubstantial and equivocal, not really very funny, not really very sad. But Sombrero Fallout is subtitled "A Japanese Novel" and all the foregoing strictures could be made by the uninitiated about, say, a haiku. Some of Brautigan's novels have been marvellously inventive; but perhaps, like the hero of this book, he is not sure quite what it is that makes him laugh, or cry. On that basis, you can't win them all.
April 3, 1977: 26.
Note: The above is an excerpt from a longer article which includes reviews of Bear by Marian Engel, The Man from Next Door by Honor Tracy, The Little Medicine Bottle by Allan Turpin, Nobody's Fault by Mervyn Jones, Scawsby by John Drabble, and Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan.