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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