1959 Pneumonia Trout

I want to have a normal cold as other people do. But my respiratory system seems to be my weak spot (everyone is said to have some weak spot or other, healthwise) so the last colds that I caught always ended up in extended periods of coughing, sweating, having to take antibiotics.

Sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, I read the Richard Brautigan book I grabbed from my bookshelves this morning: an old copy of Trout Fishing in America. I don’t know why I took this book but I didn’t want to carry the large and heavy Vernon Vinge I’m currently reading, so I needed something else and Richard Brautigan suddenly seemed like what I wanted.

I hadn’t read Brautigan for quite a while and found that I still like it although it is so sixties. Which isn’t such a bad thing. He was a tragic figure in the end but he has a very lovely sense of dry humour and a way to write that is so typically Brautigan.

I wish I could write blog entries that are like the short chapters of a Brautigan novel but without having to kill myself at the end like he did.

I finished about 2/3rds of Trout Fishing in America before my doc came to listen to my cough. He thinks pneumonia. Oh well. So it’s antibiotics, again, and an xray of my lungs next week. Actually I don’t feel bad except for the cough but I trust his expertise.

Some of the chapters in Brautigan’s book are about his childhood and youth I think, and he mentions 1959 here and there. Wow, 50 years ago. I was already alive but only five years old. Hard to believe that I was already around that long ago. Some memories from that time must be buried deep in some inaccessible parts of my brain.

In 1957, my American GI uncle took some film footage of places in Germany, and of my parents and me. When I visited him in Michigan in 1979, he gave the footage to me and I eventually had it converted to AVI. A minute of his German autobahn footage ended up on Youtube – I made a tiny Kraftwerk inspired soundtrack.

My uncle loved me dearly, and I liked him a lot – he is probably responsible for my deep seated fascination with America. There is something about America that seems deeply significant to me but I don’t really know what it is. It must have been laid down when I was very young. Every time I make it there I feel strange but somehow at home.

The way I write short sentences and paragraphs is Brautigan inspired. I notice that now.

Does anyone read Brautigan nowadays? I discovered him during the seventies when I was studying English literature and came upon the Beat generation and their poetry. Gary Snyder as one of my lifetime heroes, but many Beat inspired poets as well. Brautigan is one of a kind. I collected all of his novels and I like to read them once in a while. What is it that I like about them? I couldn’t say. If I had stayed a literature person, maybe working on some university, I’d have to be able to express that but I left that behind in another life.

Trout Fishing in America: Catching trout to eat them is about the remotest thing I can imagine. Maybe I’d have to learn it in some post-apocalyptic world where there’s no other food. Until then, they are my brothers and sisters, and they look at me, they trust me. I haven’t eaten any animals for 35 years, and that feels so good, I’m so happy that I don’t have to.

Thomas Smiatek

Finally, there was Thomas. He had been my colleague in a computer job in the early nineties, for 2 or 3 years, and I continued to meet him now and then but I hadn’t seen him for some years now. A very likeable guy who loved life. Yesterday I went behind his coffin, in a large crowd of friends. His old mother collapsed in tears. His younger brother had already died in the early nineties, and now she had lost her other son. Thomas had been 49 and he simply didn’t wake up one day.

When I look outside my window, there is a large host of blue cornflowers and pink columbines. The bees are hard at work. There are birdcalls from the trees opposite the small street. The dark clouds will bring rain this afternoon. It is quiet. Everything is simply here. I’m so happy.

2 Gedanken zu „1959 Pneumonia Trout“

  1. your posts are getting more like regular literature texts, more dense, and i like that. it’s hard to loose a friend in his youth. but that’s also part of the game. i’m also happy for listening about your happiness. hope you feel healthier now.

  2. michael, das ist ein wunderbarer text. disparate themen nahe bei einander. ob jemand brautigan liest? ich hab während meinen zwei semestern an der uni ausschnitte aus dem buch gelesen, weiss aber nur noch dass ich sie möchte.

    im juli ist 50 jahre naked lunch.

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