In Watermelon Sugar, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (9 ratings)

Description

iDEATH is a place where the sun shines a different colour every day and where people travel to the length of their dreams.

Rejecting the violence and hate of the old gang at the Forgotten Works, they lead gentle lives in watermelon sugar.

In this book, Richard Brautigan discovers and expresses the mood of a new generation.

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Reviews

Showing 1 - 5 of 9 reviews.

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Review by
5

A sparsely written elegant story set in a dream world/ post- apocalyptic utopia/ alternative reality where the sun is a different colour on each day and everything is made of watermelon sugar .Strangely compelling.

Review by
5

This is the best book of his that I've read, its pretty nuts, but nuts is better than dull. A girl gave me this book, I think generally girls would like it more than men, dunno why but I do.

Review by
5

I think we are in conservative times socially, politically, and in our literature. No one writes like Brautigan anymore. He reinvents parts of speech and plot, he blows divisions such as poetry and prose or fiction and nonfiction out of the water. He reminds me of the infinite possibilities available to writers, and our desperate need today as readers and writers to keep those options rich and open.

Review by
3

Poetic 60s fantasia.An unnamed narrator relates life at iDEATH, He tells us of the extinct Tigers who ate his parents but spared him because, as they told him, we don’t harm children, and who were beautiful singers. He tells us of Margaret, who he used have a relationship with but won’t accept it’s over, and her obsession with the Forgotten Works; where the disillusioned inBOIL lives with his followers drinking whisky. Mostly he tells us about the characters of (Pauline, whom he loves; Fred, his best friend, and Old Charlie) and day-to-day events in iDEATH.In the land of the cult writer Richard Brautigan sits at the top table – his novels are oddball, quirky, strange (pick your adjective). They contain a little plot and a little characterisation but mainly they contain a dream-like prose. They often resemble linked prose poems: beautiful and intriguing but so lightweight as novels they could simply blow away. Whether or not you like Brautigan depends solely on your reaction to his poetic prose. The community of iDEATH is the embodiment of the 1960’s hippie dream - set in a environmentally friendly community, where the buildings are built round, and from (watermelon sugar), nature, the inhabitants live, eat and sleep communally. The life is slow and easy, work gets done when it is needed by who wants to do it. Brautigan also incorporates aspects of Eastern philosophy such as living with ancestors – in iDEATH it is almost literal, as the dead are buried in glass coffins at the bottom of the river so that they are always there.Despite the bucolic nature of iDEATH acts of violence lie at the heart of the novel. The narrator and others mourn the loss of the Tigers’ beautiful singing, while acknowledging that the community had to hunt them to extinction as they preyed on its members. Then inBOIL and his followers commit suicide by cutting off their thumbs, ears and noses, bleeding to death on the floor of the trout hatchery, after he promises to reveal the truth about iDEATH. As he lies dying he states, “I am iDEATH”. Margaret, who is questioned about her obsession with the Forgotten Works, hangs herself.Are the deaths of inBOIL and Margaret, and the name of the community itself, suggesting that in order for iDEATH to succeed certain aspects of individual personality must be lost? It is interesting that inBOIL and Margaret both are obsessed with the Forgotten Works where there are buildings, books and objects belonging to a previous civilisation. (<i>Watermelon</i> is nominally a post-apocalyptic novel). For the rest of iDEATH these items should be left to decay or disappear – they are at worst dangerous; at best pointless.In the majority of utopian novels the suppression of the self and acceptance of things as they are is portrayed as bad but Brautigan appears more ambivalent. If the community members remain happy and contented does it matter? The unnamed narrator is puzzled by the deaths of inBOIL and his followers, saddened by the death of Margaret but also believes that they these deaths may have been for the best – that inBOIL and Margaret made iDEATH a less happy place to be. It is the same with the Tigers – the community made the decision to be safe at the cost of losing beauty. People miss the songs of the Tigers but they don’t dispute the necessity of the killing them all.Is Brautigan really saying that it is acceptable to lose some aspects of human behaviour in order to reach a placid middle place of acceptance? The characters that we are expected to empathise with in the book certainly suggest that. These characters however are completely naïve; they don’t question the world the way an ordinary person would do. To a large extent they are philosophically and intellectually empty – they don’t accept the world of iDEATH because it is the best possible world, they accept it because it is their world. There is always the possibility that iDEATH is a personal utopia for Brautigan. He suffered from mental problems throughout his life and perhaps iDEATH is a fictional manifestation of what he would have given up in order to achieve some level of inner peace. (He later committed suicide, aged 49, after talking about it for years – he was not discovered for a month).In the end, <i>In Watermelon Sugar</i> is your typical Richard Brautigan novel – full of lovely descriptions of sunsets and rivers and the colours of watermelon sugar but empty of the many of the attributes that make up a good novel. That doesn’t mean the book isn’t worth reading, there are worse ways to fill a quiet Sunday afternoon or a lazy summer evening than relaxing with Brautigan’s prose.

Review by
2.5

I fell in love with this book when people started cutting their thumbs off in the trout fishery. Before that, I was interested and had a little bit of a crush on it, but it was nothing serious. Now we're considering running away together. So somber and sad, with a body count the like of which hasn't been seen in Braugtigan's work yet. It's about life, plain and simple. At least, I think so. From this point forward, I live my life in watermelon sugar.

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