Trout Fishing in America, by Richard Brautigan. Picador, 1967. 150 pp. Pages have all slightly yellowed with time, as one would expect of any old paperback, but this is otherwise a remarkably clean and sturdy copy for its age.
A hippy bible in the age of flower power, Trout Fishing in America entranced and excited readers at the time because of its gently batty and inconsequential off-the-peg surrealism; and (in short stretches) it can still be mildly entertaining today, if you like kooky and whimsical American Beat writing (as so many do). The blurb says it all: ‘A miraculous journey through a country---and a mind. Richard Brautigan creates a world of gentle magic and marvellous laughter, of the incredibly beautiful and the beautifully incredible’. (Excuse me while I retch.)
It contains one sentence which gives vent to the following unusual ambition: "I always wanted to write a book that ended with the word 'mayonnaise'. You'll not be surprised to learn that this is an ambition which he goes straight on to fulfil.
“The bookstore was a parking lot for used graveyards. Thousands of graveyards were parked in rows like cars. Most of the books were out of print, and no one wanted to read them any more and the people who had read the books had died or forgotten about them, but through the organic process of music the books had become virgins again. They wore their ancient copyrights like new maidenheads . . .” Ah, gentle reader, those of us who work in Oxfam bookshops recognize what this passage is describing all too well.
In surprisingly good condition on the whole: the spine is glued with some mystic substance most unlike that used by other paperback publishers of the 1960s, in that it still seems to be as fast and firm as it was on its first appearance half a century ago.
Scarce online, and therefore highly collectable.