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This is a wonderful novel that is unlike almost any other work of ...
on 10 October 2017
The third book of Brautigan's I have read is certainly the strangest so far. This is a wonderful novel that is unlike almost any other work of fiction I have ever read. It is a very gentle, whimsical and idealistic (possibly) post-apocalyptic utopian fantasy in which there is no obvious satire or negative irony, but sufficient black humour and absurdist whimsy to render it emotionally effective on more than one level. The society described in the book will make one feel wistful; the jarring elements that co-exist with this society (I don't wish to provide any spoilers) will make one feel uneasy at the same time; and the jarring elements will intensify the wistfulness.
It's a delicate balancing act and it's hard to know how much of the charm of this novel is the product of a penetrating intelligence and how much is a product of happy naivety. Surely both qualities are involved... Certainly this is a novel that will be easy for readers of a particular political outlook to dislike. The hippy-trippy-dippy elements are strong and may seem hopelessly dreamy and escapist when read in the spirit of the violent modern age. But the remarkable qualities of the book should not be overlooked. The curious invention and atmosphere of In Watermelon Sugar are unique and deserve to be experienced by new generations of readers.