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A sombrero

7 June 2017

A sombrero fell out of the sky and landed on the main street of town in front of the mayor, his cousin, and a person out of work. The day was scrubbed clean by the desert air. The sky was blue. It was the blue of human eyes, waiting for something to happen. There was no reason for a sombrero to fall out of the sky. No airplane or helicopter was passing overhead and it was not a religious holiday.

Richard Brautigan


12 Comments to “A sombrero”

  1. Felix J. Torres

    “Later it turned out Superman was flying north out of Mexico and had to ditch the souvenir to rescue a plane about to crash in the Rockies. Otherwise he risked charges of cultural appropriation.”

  2. Love this story so much.

  3. 🙂

  4. I have not heard this story but this is a very strange line: “It was the blue of human eyes, waiting for something to happen. ”

    My eyes are blue, regardless of whether I wait for something.

    • The line is simply a cheat. One technique that bad writers use fairly often, and even good writers may fall back on despite themselves, is fake evocation – communicating mood by phony description. Instead of describing a thing and allowing it to suggest a mood to the reader, they flatly state what the mood is supposed to be and pretend that the thing described evokes it. It’s lazy, it’s a swindle against the reader, and it deserves no praise.

      In the instant case, it appears to me that Mr. Brautigan wanted to shoehorn an expectant mood into the passage, so he looked for a place where he could plausibly insert the phrase ‘waiting for something to happen’. He did this by attaching it to a bit of physical description that, by itself, would do absolutely nothing to evoke such a mood, and then relying upon artistic licence to make readers (and critics) let him get away with it.

      Incidentally, to say that eyes are sky-blue is descriptive, because sky-blue is a fairly definite colour. To say that the sky was eye-blue is just silly, because blue eyes are not all alike.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve written about this at somewhat greater length in a piece called ‘Teaching Pegasus to crawl’.

      • Yeah, that line seemed pretty limp to me as well.

      • In defense of the author, in some people eye color can change in response to mood. My eyes are very chocolately brown, but I discovered one day in front of a mirror that they turn hazel (brown + green) when I am furious. Perhaps the origin of the phrase “green-eyed monster”?

  5. And then, the murders started. 🙂

  6. “Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork.”
    My introduction to Brautigan when I was much younger.


  7. The line that struck me was: “The day was scrubbed clean by the desert air.”

    I live in the desert. The air is very dusty and could hardly scrub anything, unless you mean “sandblast.” We wait for rain to scrub the dust out of the air, which usually results in muddy splotches on your car afterwards–unless we’re in monsoon season when it rains hard for a few minutes.

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