Thursday, February 24, 2011

Maybe that stain is from mayonaise.

This is one of those book covers that you either recognize instantly or you say "What the heckfire is that?"

I was in the "What the heckfire is that?" category.

It's an old Delta Book paperback edition of Richard Brautigan's "Trout Fishing in America". The cover -- which does not include the title or author's name -- is in poor condition, with multiple creases, scuff marks, rounded corners and a stray pen mark. Somehow, after I did some reading about him, I think Brautigan would like the cover more now than when it was shiny, crisp and lovely.

Brautigan was an American poet and novelist who saw his most significant works published in the 1960s and 1970s.

"Trout Fishing in America", published in 1967, is considered Brautigan's most famous and influential1 work. The slim volume (112 pages) is described as "an abstract book without a clear central storyline. Instead, the book contains a series of anecdotes broken into chapters." Furthermore, the phrase "Trout Fishing in America" has numerous meanings and uses, many quite unorthodox, throughout the book.

The book's cover is a photograph of Brautigan and a friend (Michaela Le Grand) and was taken in San Francisco's Washington Square park in front of the Benjamin Franklin statue.

My copy, which I have skimmed but not yet fully read, is in borderline-disgusting condition with a big, blotchy stain on the exterior that has spread into the pages. The book is perfectly readable, though. It has character, in more ways than one.

I like it.

I'll be keeping it and acquainting myself with the trout in the near future.

1. Authors influenced by Brautigan include W.P. Kinsella and Haruki Murakami. There is a band named Trout Fishing in America. At least two Americans are legally named Trout Fishing in America (according to Wikipedia). And there is a boutique in the Baltimore area named "In Watermelon Sugar" after another of Brautigan's novels.

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