Information about the The Brautigan Library, its background, collection, and inspiration.
Archive and curate manuscripts by unknown, but aspiring, writers.
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 manuscripts 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vision, Todd Lockwood, of Burlington, Vermont, started The Brautigan Library in 1990, encouraging submissions of unpublished manuscripts, and opening the doors to visitors interested to browse or read them.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 library and its contents were moved to Vancouver, Washington, where it is housed at the Clark County Historical Museum.
The Brautigan Library is a unique collection of over three hundred unpublished analogue manuscripts, and a growing number of digital manuscripts submitted by authors keen to share their writing with others. 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You can submit your unpublished manuscripts, in .PDF format, to The Brautigan Library.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 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)
2). All the Rest (ALL)
3). Family (FAM)
4). Future (FUT)
5). Humor (HUM)
6). Love (LOV)
7). Meaning of Life (MEA)
8). Natural World (NAT)
9). Poetry (POE)
10). Social/Political/Cultural (SOC)
11). Spirituality (SPI)
12). Street Life (STR)
13). War and Peace (WAR)
14). Digital (DIG, added in 2013 for digital manuscripts)
Numbers of manuscripts from the original collection cataloged under Mayonnaise System categories are
All the Rest 44
Meaning of Life 21
Natural World 20
Street Life 4
War and Peace 9
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. He published two books about Brautigan, Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography and Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life. 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
The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program
Washington State University Vancouver
Curator, American Dust: Richard Brautigan's life and writing
Curator, Radio Nouspace
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.