‘What Are You Going to Do with 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees?’ by Richard Brautigan

It’s a rare January that doesn’t see me take Richard Brautigan’s The Tokyo-Montana Express off the shelf and turn to ‘What Are You Going to Do with 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees?’ It’s a perfect story for when Christmas and Hogmanay are past and everyone is skint and facing up to the realities of a new year. Brautigan’s “assassinated Christmas” will no doubt resonate with many this year in particular.

Much of what I love about the story typifies the best of Brautigan’s writing. His brevity, the almost visual clarity of his sentences, the perfect, offbeat simile and metaphor, and the sense of wonder alongside a keen awareness of poverty, loneliness and life’s other horrors. It is of course also very funny.

First published in The Tokyo-Montana Express, Delacorte Press, 1980

Nick Tartlon lives in Glasgow and struggles to find time to read in between working as a welfare rights adviser and looking after his 4 month old son’

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