Trout Fishing in America
by Kevin Wilder
This was book #21, cross-posted in a slightly different form at Some New Trend:
Bottom line: Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America is one of the strangest novels you’ll ever read. The story begins with some commentary regarding the photograph featured on the cover, and as the narrator promises earlier on, ends with the word “mayonnaise.”
You have to admire Brautigan for writing the eccentric book he wanted to, and then for actually getting famous as a result. Poetic language plays a major role in Trout Fishing, as this would be the author’s first foray into fiction. The story is certainly driven more by wordplay than plot or characters, like reading a counterculture-era James Joyce. At times the nonsensical humor reminded me of later-era stuff I’ve enjoyed from guys like Woody Allen and John Swartzwelder.
One reviewer said: ”The book isn’t really about anything, in the conventional sense. It’s chapters are loosely unified by a repeated reference to fishing for trout in America (mostly Brautigan’s native Pacific Northwest) and to a character named Trout Fishing in America, and a hotel named Trout Fishing in America, and a book titled Trout Fishing in America, and so on…”
Apparently it was written while camping with his wife and daughter beside various creatively-named creeks and streams in Idaho. Trout Fishing made Brautigan one of the rising voices of the sixties. His popularity would be short-lived, as many contemporaries would later denounce him for never “growing up.” The man suffered through alcoholism, paranoid schizophrenia and clinical depression, and most unfortunately, would would die in 1984, joining the list of authors whose lives have been cut short by suicide.
There’s not much else to say about this enjoyable book, so if you’re curious, dive into it. I’d recommend it for anyone in the mood for something incomparably weird and fun.