Today would have been the 87th birthday of Richard Brautigan.
There were entire decades during which I read and re-read the complete Brautigan canon every single year. After Dylan Thomas, Richard Brautigan was my most important influence. He was especially valuable to me in giving inspiration and value to my flash fictions and poems.
I read and re-read the koans that are the stories in “Trout Fishing In America“, the utter tripiness of “In Watermelon Sugar,” the essential genre pastiches such as “The Hawkline Monster,” “Sombrero Fallout,” and “Dreaming of Babylon“, the straightforward vulnerability of “The Abortion.” And the poetry. Every year I read them, for decades.
I recently read “Trout Fishing” and “In Watermelon Sugar” for the first time in a long time, and I may go back to reading Brautugan every year again.
Fifty years ago today, the British Parachute Regiment shot more than thirty unarmed protesters in the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry, Northern Ireland, killing fourteen. Those killed and injured had gathered to protest anti-Catholic discrimination in housing and employment that was being enforced by British colonial forces.
This was the worst mass killing in Ulster’s modern history.
An inquiry — considered by most to be a whitewash — determined that the solders were “justified” in shooting. However, the later Saville Inquiry, finally published in 2010, proved that those shot were all unarmed, were of no danger to the soldiers, and that soldiers lied about their actions.
Far from quelling the protests, the Bogside Massacre led to a significant increase in IRA recruitment.