It was early June when my dad, who was also a writer, passed away this year. Sitting in the hospital weeks before, beneath the florescent lights, I read him a few chapters from In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan, which he had given me when I was a teenager. The celebrated 1968 novel has always been one of my favorites. I’m lucky that growing up, my dad introduced me to Beat poets and surreal authors like Brautigan. Both my dad and I knew how special these books were: How easy it was to fall in love with the imaginary, far-off lands that live only in one’s mind and how these authors were able to allow these worlds to blossom on the page.
My dad’s introduction to In Watermelon Sugar helped shape my mind as to what I could write. Reading about the land of iDEATH and falling into that dreamy realm gave me permission to branch out and tap into my own personal style of writing, where there are no rules except to create. One does not need anything special to tell a story or create a world. You can express yourself with a pen and paper, with your mind, in whatever form it is in. You have the control to paint the world and express your reality. We are all creative vessels, inspired by the reading of a beautiful line, how the sky looks one day, or how our hearts feel in a moment.
—Tara Sidhoo Fraser, author of When My Ghost Sings: A Memoir of Stroke, Recovery, and Transformation (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2023)