fourth strawberry

... goes fishing

12 strawberries
  Trout Fishing in America can mean anything
Brautigan wants it to mean.

David Lodge

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After the birth of Ianthe, they saved enough for an idyllic trip to Idaho during 1961. »We'd camp beside the streams, and Richard would get out his old portable typewriter and a card table. That's when he began to write Trout Fishing in America.«

Keith Abbott, Downstream from trout fishing in America, p. 44 quotes Virginia Adler (Richard Brautigan's ex-wife)


Mr. Brautigan submitted a book to us in 1962 called Trout Fishing in America. I gather from the reports that it is not about trout fishing.

From the rejection by Viking Press, quoted after: Claudia Großmann, Richard Brautigan: pounding at the gates of american literature, p. 144

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trout fishing book cover


The cover for Trout Fishing in America is a photograph taken late in the afternoon, a photograph of the Benjamin Franklin statue in San Francisco's Washington Square.

Born 1706 - Died 1790, Benjamin Franklin stands on a pedestal that looks like a house containing stone furniture. He holds some papers in one hand and his hat in the other.

Then the statue speaks, saying in marble:


Around the base of the statue are four words facing the directions of this world, to the east WELCOME, to the west WELCOME, to the north WELCOME, to the south WELCOME. Just behind the statue are three poplar trees, almost leafless except for the top branches. The statue stands in front of the middle tree. All around the grass is wet from the rains of early February.

In the background is a tall cypress tree, almost dark like a room. Adlai Stevenson spoke under the tree in 1956, before a crowd of 40,000 people.

There is a tall church across the street from the statue with crosses, steeples, bells and a vast door that looks like a huge mousehole, perhaps from a Tom and Jerry cartoon, and written above the door is »Per L'Universo«.

Around five o'clock in the afternoon of my cover for Trout Fishing in America, people gather in the park across the street from the church and they are hungry.

It's sandwich time for the poor.

But they cannot cross the street until the signal is given. Then they all run across the street to the church and get their sandwiches that are wrapped in newspaper. They go back to the park and unwrap the newspaper and see what their sandwiches are all about.

A friend of mine unwrapped his sandwich one afternoon and looked inside to find just a leaf of spinach. That was all.

Was it Kafka who learned about America by reading the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin...

Kafka who said: »I like the Americans because they are healthy and optimistic.«

Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America, p. 1-2

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When Trout Fishing in America was published in 1967, its patchwork construction, its pastoral lost-paradise themes, and its funky, wacky and innocent voices appeared to mirror events in the Haight. Brautigan's active engagement with the Diggers gave him recognition and a de facto status as Poet Laureate for the street. At last the media had something written and so the novel became an emblem, an explanation, and a target.

Keith Abbott, Downstream from trout fishing in America, p. 41


Measured against all of Brautigan's writings, one sees that Trout is the author's best work - an inspired first novel. Even the critics who do not admire his later works would allow that Trout was and will be the true and abiding voice of the flower children who bloomed for a few short years and then disappeared.

Donald M. Fiene, Trout Fishing in America, in: Masterplots II. American Fiction Series Vol. 4, p. 1702-06, 1986

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Should I tell you? In my opinion Trout Fishing isn't so hot. But 2 millions ...

3  <-  4  ->  5
all berries
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