From Jonathan Swain, our designer:
“In the introduction to his novel, Richard Brautigan states that
Though the Tokyo-Montana Express moves at a great speed, there are many stops along the way. This book is those brief stations, some confident, others still searching for their identities.
The “I” in this book is the voice of the stations along the track of the Tokyo-Montana Express.
I think Brautigan had a popular series of prints by Hiroshiga in mind whilst writing the book. Hiroshiga, one of the leading Ukiyo-e, “floating world” artists in nineteenth century Japan, walked the the coastal path and then the inland road between the traditional capital Kyoto and the upcoming dominant city Edo (Tokyo). En route he stopped at the designated wayside rest stations, stories from and impressions of these he turned into two series of beautiful prints ‘The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido’ (1834) and ‘The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaido’ (1836).
Brautigan certainly enjoyed elements of the twentieth century version of the floating world in Shimbuyu, Shinjuku, San Francisco and even dusty Montana. The short episodes in the novel echo the cool, lean, snapshot portrayal of the incidents shown in Hiroshigas pictures.