In which you will learn the best methods and techniques for effective trout fishing….or not. I had read Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America twice before, I believe, but couldn’t remember much about it apart from the fact that it was a bit bonkers. I don’t even remember liking it that much but I enjoyed it more this time, possibly because I knew not to expect a linear narrative. I mean, throughout the book ‘Trout Fishing in America’ begins to refer to different things: the book itself, a hotel, a person, a pen nib etc. Now writing a review of such a strange little book is beyond me (or I’m just too lazy to attempt it) so I’m just going to dump a whole load of quotes (and chapter headings) from the book on to you and mix them together to try to scramble your brain. Believe it or not some of them make sense when in context but I do enjoy pulling quotes out of context and letting them live on their own. Here goes….
It’s sandwich time for the poor. Steel made from trout. I remember mistaking an old woman for a trout stream in Vermont, and I had to beg her pardon. The Kool-Aid Wino. You’re not fooling anyone by taking your clothes off when you go to bed. The birthmark looked just like an old car parked on his head. They were huge, slow-moving child-eyed rats. Now it was close to sunset and the earth was beginning to cool off in the manner of eternity and office girls were returning like penguins from Montgomery Street. You had to be a plumber to fish that creek. And the dead didn’t mind me fishing there at all. The girl was very pretty and her body was like a clear mountain river of skin and muscle flowing over rocks of bone and hidden nerves. His eyes were like the shoelaces of a harpsichord. He looked ninety years old for thirty years and then he got the notion that he would die, and did so. Trout death by port wine. He looked like a young, skinny Adolf Hitler, but friendly. We were all silent except for blink, blink, blink, blink, blink. My sperm came out into the water, unaccustomed to the light, and instantly it became a misty, stringy kind of thing and swirled out like a falling star, and I saw a dead fish come forward and float into my sperm, bending it in the middle. HANDLE THIS WINO LIKE HE WAS AN ANGEL. Everything smelled of sheep on Paradise Creek, but there were no sheep in sight. It has been raining here now for two days, and through the trees, the heart stops beating. The trout in those telephone booths were good fellows. The fish was a twelve-inch rainbow trout with a huge hump on its back. A hunchback trout. It is easy to say things about Stanley when you have never been there. Like astigmatism, I made myself at home. Instead of making her furry sound, she adapted rapidly to the difference between animals and fish, and was soon making a silver sound. How religious and intimate the goldfish and the gun looked together. They weren’t exactly the quietest body bringers in the world. The dog barked so loud that the bathroom was soon filled with dead people. Curses were music to their roots. Trout fishing on the Street of Eternity. The red dress did it all. He had a photograph taken of Existentialism and himself sitting at a sidewalk cafe. We go into the house and begin that two-hour-yak-yak-activity we call breakfast. He bought that window at the Cleveland Wrecking Yard. His mistresses became bird nests of wrinkles. USED TROUT STREAM FOR SALE. We have our coffin-sized Christmas trees right over here, sir. Expressing a human need, I always wanted to write a book that ended with the word Mayonnaise.
And did Brautigan end his book with the word ‘Mayonnaise’? Well, not quite…the last line is actually ‘P.S. Sorry I forgot to give you the mayonaise.’ Doh! It’s actually harder than you think. I tried to end this post with the word ‘Mayonnaise’. But failed.