Quick Links

Mission  |  Background  |  Collections  |  Mayonnaise  |  More  |  Librarian  |  Brautigan

Mission

Archive and curate unpublished analogue and digital books by unknown, but aspiring, writers.

Background

In his 1971 novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966, American author Richard Brautigan (1935-1984) described a library for books outside the interests of the commercial publishing industry. The purpose of the library, he wrote, was "to gather pleasantly together "the unwanted, the lyrical and haunted volumes of American writing" (96). There were no rules about subjects, or quality of writing. Authors were free to place their books wherever they liked on the library's shelves. "It doesn't make any difference where a book is placed because nobody ever checks them out and nobody ever comes here to read them. This is not that kind of library. This is another kind of library" (20). Although no one could visit the library and read their books, the authors seemed happy that their visions and voices were collected and preserved.

Inspired by Brautigan's vision, Todd Lockwood, of Burlington, Vermont, started The Brautigan Library in 1990, encouraging submissions of unpublished manuscripts, and opening the doors to visitors interested to browse or read them. Unable to sustain operations on donations and volunteer librarians, the original Brautigan Library was closed in 2005 and its collection of manuscripts placed in storage. In 2010, The Brautigan Library and its contents were moved to Vancouver, Washington, where it is open for visitors at the Clark County Historical Museum.

The Collections

The Brautigan Library features three collections of unpublished manuscripts and literary artifacts, Original, Digital, and Special. Manuscripts in these collections provide interesting and unique stories.

Original Collection
More than three hundred unpublished analogue manuscripts, submitted by their authors, 1990-1996.

Digital Collection
A growing number of unpublished digital manuscripts submitted since 2013 by authors keen to share their writing with others.

Special Collections
1). The 23 plus 1
Brautigan described twenty-four books submitted to his fictional library during a single day in a chapter of his novel The Abortion, entitled "The 23." Artist Andrew Knowlton imagined the text for each of these books, created them as one-of-a-kind artist books, and donated them to The Brautigan Library.

2). Brautigania
A small private collection of books by Richard Brautigan donated to The Brautigan Library.

3). The Brautigan Library Papers and Such
Business papers, correspondence, and more from the first iteration of The Brautigan Library.

The Mayonnaise System

All manuscripts are cataloged using The Mayonnaise System, an organizational system developed specifically for The Brautigan Library. Manuscripts are cataloged according to fourteen general categories, the year of submission, and the order of acquisition into the category. For example, LOV 1992.005 indicates the manuscript was the fifth one cataloged in 1992 to the LOV(e) category. In the first iteration of The Brautigan Library, category sections of the library's shelves were marked by mayonnaise jars. This practice stopped after several jars of mayonnaise were dropped to the floor and broken. The Mayonnaise System borrows its name from the last chapter of Brautigan's best-known novel, Trout Fishing in America.

Categories of The Mayonnaise System are
1). Adventure (ADV; 25 manuscripts)
2). All the Rest (ALL; 44 manuscripts)
3). Family (FAM; 25 manuscripts)
4). Future (FUT; 4 manuscripts)
5). Humor (HUM; 19 manuscripts)
6). Love (LOV; 17 manuscripts)
7). Meaning of Life (MEA; 21 manuscripts)
8). Natural World (NAT; 20 manuscripts)
9). Poetry (POE; 47 manuscripts)
10). Social/Political/Cultural (SOC; 55 manuscripts)
11). Spirituality (SPI; 14 manuscripts)
12). Street Life (STR; 4 manuscripts)
13). War and Peace (WAR; 9 manuscripts)
14). Digital (DIG, added in 2013 for digital manuscripts)
15). Special Collections (SPC, added in 2018)

More

Frequently Asked Questions answered here.

The Manuscript Catalog provides statistical information for the entire collection, and specific information for each manuscript, including acquisition and category information, author information, and comments from The Librarian.

You can submit your unpublished manuscripts, in .PDF format, to The Brautigan Library.

The Librarian

The Brautigan Library is curated and cared for by Brautigan scholar John F. Barber, who developed and curates American Dust, the renowned online resource about Richard Brautigan, his life and works. Barber published two books, Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography and Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life, and several essays about Brautigan. Barber convenes with the faculty of The Creative Media & Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington, USA. LEARN more.

John F. Barber
Email: jfbarber[at]eaze[dot]net
Web: www.nouspace.net/john/
The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program
Washington State University Vancouver
Curator, American Dust: Richard Brautigan's life and writing
Curator, Radio Nouspace

Richard Brautigan

Richard Gary Brautigan (1935-1984) was a 20th Century American writer whose novels, stories, and poetry are often cited as the best to depict the zeitgeist of the counterculture in San Francisco, California, during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Brautigan, born in Tacoma, Washington, Brautigan spent his childhood in Washington and Oregon. He moved to San Francisco in 1956 where he rose to international prominence with the publication of his novel Trout Fishing in America (1967), his collection of poetry, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968) and his collection of stories, Revenge of the Lawn (1971).

Although Brautigan died in 1984, his legacy continues as writers, readers, artists, musicians, and others find inspiration and insight in his works while scholars and researchers find his work central to any study of The Sixties.

Learn more about Richard Brautigan at American Dust, the preeminent resource for information about the life and writings of Brautigan, developed and maintained by John Barber.