Review: ‘Trout Fishing in America’ by Richard Brautigan

Originally posted on Goodreads

Not really sure what I just read. The feeling is more like I’d just listened to a freeform jazz odyssey than read a novel, but that’s probably part of the appeal.

It’s something like a dream (or a hallucination, as the afterword more accurately says). Recognisable elements are woven in such a way that the end result feels completely random. There are fragments of meaning, but it’s hard to know what to attach them to or what conclusions to draw from them.

There is some virtuosically beautiful imagery, mixed in with attempts that are clunky, forced, and weird. Again, the afterword says it best: “Brautigan’s tropes run the gamut from the outré to sheer nonsense, yet some of them are imaginative bull’s-eyes. Readers are left to sort them out for themselves.”

This book gets close to doing the things I enjoy about Kurt Vonnegut, but too loosely and incoherently for me to really enjoy.

That said, I’m planning to read it again shortly to get another hit of whatever it does deliver.

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