Publishers Weekly review of 'An Unfortunate Woman'
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Review of An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey

Eerily foreshadowing the 1984 suicide of its author, counterculture legend Brautigan, this previously unpublished book is a semiautobiographical description of one man's experience of the classic symptoms of depression. The narrator, clearly the talented, alcoholic, sexually questing Brautigan, explains his rambling account as "a calendar of one man's journey during a few months of his life." The episodic entries, dating from January to June of 1982, at first seem whimsically random, as the narrator recounts a peripatetic six months wandering among Montana, Berkeley, Hawaii, San Francisco, Buffalo, the Midwest, Alaska, Canada and points in between, but soon it's obvious that a preoccupation with death is the dominant theme. The narrator stays at various times in the house of "an unfortunate woman" who hanged herself, and the event darkens his consciousness even when he is not physically there. Meanwhile, another friend is dying of cancer, and this, too, contributes to his morbid state of mind. Financial troubles, estrangement from his daughter, insomnia, a deepening dependence on drink and the confession that he feels "very terribly alone" add up to a picture of a man whose melancholy will reach the breaking point. Even so, Brautigan maintains his ironic humor and his ability to write clear, often crystalline prose, though at time his mannerismsrepetition of a pedestrian thought, a habit of attaching cosmic significance to a mundane event, such as an Alaskan crow eating a hot dog bunbecome irritating. Yet the reader cannot help being moved by this candid cri de coeur of a soul in anguish, and to his fans, these last words will be a book to treasure. (June)

FYI: An Unfortunate Woman is being issued in tandem with You Can't Catch Death, a memoir written by Brautigan's daughter, reviewed in this issue's Nonfiction Forecasts?.

Publishers Weekly?
May 15, 2000
Online Source: http://reviews.publishersweekly.com/bd.aspx?isbn=0312262434&pub=pw(external link)

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