Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
The Abortion: An Historical Romance was Brautigan’s first book to which he gave a subtitle; by doing so he clearly indicated that the work was based on an already established subgenre. A writer of such originality, however, does not produce the sort of romance that most readers might expect. Instead, he infuses the form with his own themes and zany humor.
The unnamed narrator of The Abortion, though distinguished by eccentric attitudes and gentleness, is not as fully developed a character as the narrators of several other of Brautigan’s books, most notably Jesse of A Confederate General from Big Sur and the unnamed narrator of In Watermelon Sugar. While he is admirable for his view of humanity, a self-imposed isolation and his chosen role in life reduce him in stature. Distant from most of society and remote in his feelings, he lives a life apart, both in the depths of his distinctly odd library (where he also lives) and in the labyrinth-like rooms of the Mexican abortion doctor later in the story.
Early in the story, the narrator describes his strange library: The books are all donated by the people who write them, society’s sad losers and misfits, and Brautigan goes into considerable detail with titles (Growing Flowers by Candlelight in Hotel Rooms, The Stereo and God) and descriptions of the often unhappy or disturbed people who get to shelve their books themselves. Included in the...
(The entire section is 694 words.)
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