I think what attracts me to the art, as well as to his writing, is its sheer likability. Brainard talks a lot in his written work about wanting to be liked. In the writing this doesn't come off as preciousness, or over-eagerness. The reason I Remember has become such a classic is because of the works' humor and lack of pretension or artifice--each statement starts with the plain-spoken and practical "I remember," followed by an image or memory that might be mundane, or it might be touching in its vulnerability:
I remember running for vice-president and giving a campaign speech wearing my baby blue garbardine pants. I lost. That was junior high school.
I remember that nobody ever knew what to give Aunt Ruby on special occasions so everyone always gave her some stationary or scarves or handkerchiefs or boxes of fancy soap.
I remember daydreams of being a girl and the beautiful formals I would have.
The beauty of the Collected Writings is that there's so much more to see. I Remember is what Brainard will be remembered for, at least in the realm of the written word, but this collection of journals, jottings, collaborations, and experiments shows he was more than a one-hit wonder. Here, in its entirety, is "No Story."
I hope you have enjoyed not reading this story as much as I have enjoyed not writing it.
He reminds me, sometimes, of Gertrude Stein. Here are three of the "Twenty-three Mini Essays":
He was at the airport when his ship came in.
Poetry is that certain something we so often find missing.
The marriage was so brief they had nothing to fight over but the cake.