THE ABORTION: An Historical Romance 1966
by Richard Brautigan

This novel is about the romantic possibilities of a public library in California.

Published in 1970, the Abortion is Richard Brautigan's fourth novel, following what may be one of the best novellas of all time, In Watermelon Sugar. In Brautigan's warm-hearted story-telling, the reader is taken away by kindness transmitted through words. Careful sentences, short and musical. Always this sense of whimsy, but not whimpy. It is separated into six "books" or chapters:

  1. Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight?
  2. Vida
  3. Calling the Caves
  4. Tijuana
  5. My Three Abortions
  6. The Hero

At the opening chapters we are introduced to our narrator, a librarian in a very a special library. He lives here, and if that doorbell rings at night, he'll be at the door to accept a book from an author. The library carries any book that someone has assembled. All one has to do is bring it down to the Librarian, and he'll put it on the shelves. Sometimes the library fills up--there's a friend who comes and takes the oldest ones to the caves... One day the narrator gets 23 books in one day. Some of these books included:

PANCAKE PRETTY by Barbara Jones. The author was seven years old and wearing a pretty white dress.

"This book is about a pancake," she said.

HE KISSED ALL NIGHT by Susan Margar. The author was a very plain middle-aged woman who looked as if she had never been kissed. You had to look twice to ssee if she had any lips on her face. It was a suprise to find her mouth almost totally hidden beneath her nose.

"It's about kissing," she said.

I guess she was too old for any subterfuge now.

MOOSE by Richard Brautigan. The author was tall and blond and had a long yellow mustache that gave him an anachronistic appearance. He looked as if he would be more at home in another era.

This was the third or fourth book he had brought to the library. Every time he brought in a new book he loked a little older, a little more tired. He looked quite young when he brought in his first book. I can't remember the title of it, but it seems to me the book had something to do with America.

"What's this one about?" I asked, because he looked as if he wanted me to ask him something.

"Just annother book," he said.

I guess I was wrong about him wanting me to ask him something.

THE CULINARY DOSTOEVSKI by James Fallon. The author said the book was a cookbook of recipes he had found in Dostoevski's novels.

"Some of them are very good," he said. "I've eaten everything Dostoevski ever cooked."


The story concerns itself primarily with "what happens when a quirky and handsome narrator/librarian meets up with Vida, (named after a town Brautigan grew up near in Oregon) black haired beauty, "born inside the wrong body... Besides having an incredibly delicate face, beautiful, wit long black hair that hung about her shoulders like bat lightning, there was something very unusual about her, but I could not quite tell what that thing was because her face was like a perfect labyrinth that led me momentarily away from a very disturbing thing."

They take to each other immediatly, and then... Vida is pregnant. What do you do? From there the story moves, through evaluations of airports and Mexico. As if ripping from the collective unconscious itself, Brautigan paints the perfect cosmic internment camp, a Woolworth's in Tijuana as some weird time zone... I've had dreams about this shit before I even read the book. Same damn convenience store.

This book was originally published by Simon and Schuster in New York. The book was written several years prior to its publication. It is among Brautigan's very best.