Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cult Fiction: Shoeless Joe

Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella is probably the most famous novel that only a few people have read.  It was the basis for the hit movie Field of Dreams, and yet far more people have seen the film than read the book.  It can be classified as cult fiction since sales took off in 1988 when Field of Dreams was released.  It retains a loyal cult following and is still in print twenty-seven years later even though sales dropped off quickly.

The book is far different from the movie, although the basic characters and plot structure are in place.  The story revolves around main character Ray Kinsella, who builds a cornfield on his Iowa farm so that Shoeless Joe Jackson and other disgraced members of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox can find redemption by playing ball in the here-and-now.  Ray is accompanied on his mystical quest to find meaning in the experience by J. D. Salinger and former baseball player Moonlight Graham.  In the film, the character of Salinger was changed to Terence Mann in order to avoid a lawsuit from the very unhappy Salinger, who hadn't given permission for his name to be used in Kinsella's novel.

Like John Lennon and the Mercy Street CafĂ©, Shoeless Joe is a work of magical realism, blending real history with fictional and supernatural events.  And that's also why this book can be classified as cult fiction.  It appeals to a sense of magic that everyone wants to experience.  Twenty-seven years after the film, people still make a pilgrimage to the cornfield in Iowa where much of the movie was shot.

Kinsella wrote two other novels, neither of which attained the same status as Shoeless Joe.

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What Is Cult Fiction?
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Cult Fiction and Genre
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Moby-Dick: The Ultimate Cult Novel
John Lennon and the Mercy Street Cafe: Cult Fiction in the Making?
The Next Wave of Cult Fiction
List of Cult Fiction Classics
Cult Fiction Websites
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cult Fiction: Trout Fishing in America

Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan is one of the great cult novels of all time.  It was published in 1967.  The book is highly abstract, with surrealistic prose that at times borders on poetry.  Its storyline is amorphous.  The book is broken into short chapters (as all of Brautigan's work is).  Most of the chapters were written on a camping trip in Idaho with his wife and daughter Ianthe in 1961.  Besides being the title of the book, the phrase "trout fishing in America" is the act of fishing as well as a character in the book,

The cultural influences of the book are numerous.  W. P. Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe, claimed that Trout Fishing in America was an enormous influence on his novel The Alligator Report.  Apollo 17 astronaut Jack Schmitt was a fan of the novel and named a crater on the moon "shorty," who was a character in the book.  People have changed their names to Trout Fishing in America, and various rock bands have adopted the name.

The surrealistic prose of the book and its eccentric characters and style still resonate with readers today, in 2015.  The book has acquired and re-acquired a steady readership throughout the years.  Trout Fishing in America is classic cult fiction because it breaks the boundaries of the traditional novel and challenges the reader to reassess exactly what a novel is.

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About This Website
Index of Articles on This Website
What Is Cult Fiction?
Is Cult Fiction the Same as Underground Fiction?
Cult Fiction and Genre
Cult Fiction and ON THE ROAD
Cult Fiction and A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES
Moby-Dick: The Ultimate Cult Novel
John Lennon and the Mercy Street Cafe: Cult Fiction in the Making?
The Next Wave of Cult Fiction
List of Cult Fiction Classics
Cult Fiction Websites
Current Trends in Fiction
Literary Fiction
Breakout Fiction
Literary Agents
Self-Published Novels
Understanding the Literary Marketplace
Emerging Writers in the Literary Marketplace
Resources for Writers
About Cat Spaulding
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Cult Fiction: Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan--novelist, poet, and short story writer--is an author whose work fits the classic definition of cult fiction.  While Brautigan did receive conventional publishing contracts before his death in 1984, he did self-publish at first and eventually published with City Lights Press (run by beat poet Lawrence  Ferlinghetti).  After Kurt Vonnegut read his work, Brautigan was recommended to and published by Delacorte.  Later he would be published by Simon and Schuster.

Brautigan's novels include Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar, Sombrero Fallout, The Hawkline Monster, So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away, A Confederate General from Big Sur, and An Unfortunate Woman.  His short story collection is titled Revenge of the Lawn.

Brautigan's work was definitely an acquired taste in the beginning, and his original poetry collections were sewn together by hand and distributed on the street.  His prose style is playful, challenging, and more often than not, dark and satirical.  In almost all of his fiction, he challenges established values, a hallmark of cult fiction.

Brautigan's work is still sold and read today.  His complete work, including unpublished work by unknown authors, is housed in The Richard Brautigan Library.

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About This Website
Index of Articles on This Website
What Is Cult Fiction?
Is Cult Fiction the Same as Underground Fiction?
Cult Fiction and Genre
Cult Fiction and ON THE ROAD
Cult Fiction and A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES
Moby-Dick: The Ultimate Cult Novel
John Lennon and the Mercy Street Cafe: Cult Fiction in the Making?
The Next Wave of Cult Fiction
List of Cult Fiction Classics
Cult Fiction Websites
Current Trends in Fiction
Literary Fiction
Breakout Fiction
Literary Agents
Self-Published Novels
Understanding the Literary Marketplace
Emerging Writers in the Literary Marketplace
Resources for Writers
About Cat Spaulding
Contact