This 1st person short story, "1/3, 1/3, 1/3," is only five pages long. Poverty and the hope to make some money, 1/3 for each person involved, is the main plot. "Pounding at the gates of American literature" is a poignant ending for the three impoverished souls who still have hope and a plan. As they read the poorly handwritten story, they fall into it.
I like how the three people are whole and rounded yet we do not know everything about them and when they sink together into the story that they are going to write, type and edit, the narrator who is to be the typist, says that they are "pounding at the gate of American literature." The last line combining the handwritten story by the novelist character and the characters of this story combine, join across time. Well, now when I re-read it the word while seems not to make that happen.
The narrator eats an apple suggesting Garden of Eden; there is a lot of water and rain but also muddy water. The woman who is to do the editing wears white boots suggesting purity but we're told she's not. I don't understand "the evil dentist house."
The sawmill is also prominently mentioned. Logging, cutting down trees does that refer also to eating the forbidden apple and going to far as to chop down the apple tree?
The editor seeks help from the Welfare office and that her check is late to me means that the church fails people. Religion is mentioned overtly finally "highway was in distant heaven, only to be prayed to." then it is compared to a cemetery.
I'll have to think about the 1/2 dog, 1/2 cat creature. Then there is mention of a sad looking bed "this side of The Cross" with the and cross capitalized. Another reference to church / religion / Christianity. "Born dirty" reference to original sin. Is this story basically a "Fall of Man" story? Or a triumphant story in that man never gives up. There is always hope.
Western music plays but our narrator cannot find the source of it.
It's really a fabulous story the way the author combines some autobiographical (I imagine) and religion and the word, i.e., the word of God, in the beginning there was the word, and then he ends with referring to American literature.
According to Wikipedia Hopalong Cassidy was a clean cut nice cowboy type with a "fine sense of fair play." The novelist had a picture of Hopalong Cassidy on the cover of his handwritten notebook. The novel takes place very specifically in 1935. Boulder Dam was finished that year.Ozzie and Harriet get married that year-very odd tidbit. Nazis take away German Jews citizenship. Hold back water, good and evil. Of course, I have no idea why Brautigan chose 1935 but part of the fun of reading literature is adding your own interpretations.
He also mentions that the editor woman/girl looks and sounds twelve. The novelist character also mentions apple albeit spelled apl.
I read that Brautigan grew up extremely poor and with the narrator living in the shack with his typewriter makes me think it is sort of a self-portrait story. Did Brautigan feel he was "pounding at the gates of American literature?"
I'm so happy I read this story finally as I've had it on my shelf for years. It's great! I think this quote from Umberto Eco applies to this story. "I would define the poetic effect as the capacity that a text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed."
extensive page devoted to Richard Brautigan