Richard Brautigan, "The Scarlatti Tilt"

“It’s very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who’s learning to play the violin.” That’s what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.

(from Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970)

Usually that top line is where I put a (vague) description of the plot of the story, but here I’ve placed the entire story because it’s just that short. (It’s so short, in fact, that my pal Brian pasted it into IM to send it to me.) I like the story. It’s sort of like a dark little joke. Succinct, with each word building up to the punchline.

Dedicated to Aunt Lee.

8 thoughts on “Richard Brautigan, "The Scarlatti Tilt"

  1. William

    An excellent short story for teachers to use in junior-middle grades to teach the skill of inferring. Everything one “learns” from this story is learned by making inferences; thus, it is very powerful for evoking images and creating discussion. Should be required reading for every English class!

  2. Rick Patterson

    Here’s another short short:

    “Bedtime Story” by Jeffrey Whitmore.

    “Careful, honey, it’s loaded,” he said, re-entering the bedroom.
    Her back rested against the headboard. “This for your wife?”
    “No. Too chancy. I’m hiring a professional.”
    “How about me?”
    He smirked. “Cute. But who’d be dumb enough to hire a lady hit man?”
    She wet her lips, sighting along the barrel.
    “Your wife.”

    See? Another brilliant little bit of implication that makes the reader have to work a little bit at inference. Wonderful things, short shorts.

  3. Jessi (with an eye)

    Fantastic book, and the story is awesome. Sorry to the suckas. My favorite in the collection is “Pacific Radio Fire.” He’s a good model for letting go of absolutes and allowing associations and juxtapositions to create something bigger than the words on the page.


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