Richard Brautigan dedicated “Sombrero Fallout” — his seventh novel, published in 1976 — to writer Junichiro Tanizaki. Indeed, he echoes Tanizaki in the worship of his protagonist, a Japanese woman named Yukiko. “She had a beautiful laugh which was like rain water pouring over daffodils made from silver,” writes Brautigan.

Yukiko’s ex-lover is a humorist in San Francisco — a neurotic mess with no sense of humor. Agonizing over their breakup one night, a story that he tossed in the wastepaper basket magically continues: A sombrero falls out of the sky in Arizona, provoking confused competition as to who should pick it up. And soon clumsiness and belligerence spiral into an absurd standoff with the U.S. Army.

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