From a tribute cocktail once served at Capitol Hill’s now-shuttered Redwood to the Pacific Northwest streams he fished in as a boy, it’s easy to trace the lingering influence of Tacoma-born writer Richard Brautigan if you know where to look.

Though known for depicting San Francisco’s counterculture of the 1960s and 70s with surrealistic flair, you’ll find one of his greatest legacies on three bookcases in the basement of Vancouver’s Clark County Historical Museum.

Known as the Brautigan Library, the collection spans family histories, absurd Brautigan-esque capers, DIY religious tracts and memoirs of ordinary lives.

But in 1997, it closed due to lack of funding, and the manuscripts were put in storage in a basement.

John Barber.

This caught the attention of John Barber, a faculty member in the Creative Media and Digital Culture program at Washington State University, Vancouver, who had once studied under Brautigan.

He found space for the collection at the Clark County Historical Museum, and the library was moved and reopened in 2010.

Barber says he received an influx of manuscripts after the story about the Brautigan Library aired on This American Life. So far, 12 have been submitted in 2019.

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Seattle Times