Thursday, December 10, 2009

book review -- Sombrero Fallout


One of my favorite books, Sombrero Fallout alternates two stories into one -- between 1.) a frozen sombrero that mysteriously falls from the sky into a small town causing a commotion and 2.) a writer's obsession with a Japanese ex, whose well-illustrated dreams of her father and familiar places are guided by the bedside purring sounds of her cat in marathon bouts of sleep.

The stories are a mix of realist, absurd and whimsical happenings, which Brautigan's voice executes with a smart, romantic and unpretentious flare. His lines are simple and repetitious. His tone is gentle, thoughtful, and silly. His observations, at times profound in their relatability, are dolloped with notions of extra mayo tuna fish sandwiches, an erotic house key incident, a magnifying glass and a black strand of hair, an earless librarian, lines and lines of ornamental poetry, and Norman Mailer crawling out of a tank covered in the blood of decimated soldiers.

Here is one of my favorite passages: "I will be very careful the next time I fall in love, she told herself. Also, she had made a promise to herself that she intended on keeping. She was never going to go out with another writer: no matter how charming, sensitive, inventive or fun they could be. They were emotionally too expensive and the upkeep was too complicated. They were like having a vacuum cleaner around that broke all the time and only Einstein could fix it.

She wanted her next lover to be a broom."



I laughed out loud close to a dozen times reading Sombrero Fallout. Had five epiphanies about my own life, fell in love twice, and couldn't put it down while cooking an elaborate breakfast with sizzling eggs and real buttered toast, or commuting on a sidewalk by five o'clock traffic. I could say the book is dangerously distracting, but I'm sure I'll risk my life to read it again and again, regardless.
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