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Trout Fishing in America / The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster / In Watermelon Sugar

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  8,980 ratings  ·  402 reviews
An omnibus edition of three counterculture classics by Richard Brautigan that embody the spirit of the 1960s.
Trout Fishing in America is by turns a hilarious, playful, and melancholy novel that wanders from San Francisco through America's rural waterways; In Watermelon Sugar expresses the mood of a new generation, revealing death as a place where people travel the length
Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 1st 1989 by Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence (first published 1967)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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Start your review of Trout Fishing in America / The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster / In Watermelon Sugar
Ahmad Sharabiani
Trout Fishing in America / The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster / In Watermelon Sugar, Richard Brautigan
Trout Fishing in America is a novella written by Richard Brautigan and published in 1967. It is technically Brautigan's first novel; he wrote it in 1961 before A Confederate General From Big Sur, which was published first. Trout Fishing In America is an abstract book without a clear central storyline. Instead, the book contains a series of anecdotes broken into chapters, with the same
Nov 11, 2007 rated it really liked it

If you intend to invite me over to your house
at eleven PM
for an important meeting,

but then to not arrive there yourself
until one AM,

then it is a good idea
to leave a copy of this book
out on the kitchen counter

so that later

instead of calling you "flaky teenage punk poet jerk"

in an online public forum,

I will just thank you.
Aug 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Richard Brautigan is an iconic counter-cultural poet and author who is probably best known for his 1967 novel Trout Fishing in America. His novels deploy a unique blend of magical realism, satire and black comedy. I recently read an omnibus that included two novels Trout Fishing in America and In Watermelon Sugar and a collection of poetry The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster.

I think it is important to understand the life of an author when critically reading their novels. Normally
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, verse
In Watermelon Sugar reminded me, in a certain way, of the Unthank parts of Alasdair Gray's Lanark in that you're never quite sure if the world it inhabits is our world, an alternate dimension, our world in a post-apocalyptic state, or perhaps the afterlife. And I mention "post-apocalyptic" not because it seems like a hostile wasteland (the world it describes is actually quite magical and beautiful), but because there are hints at mysterious "forgotten things," suggesting that perhaps this is a ...more
Apr 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
I love, love love Richard Brautigan's poetry.
One of my favorites:

Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4

1. Get enough food to eat.
and eat it.

2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

3. Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of youself,
and listen to it.



And the story In Watermelon Sugar was one of the wierdest things I've ever read. And coming from me, that says a lot. I dig it.

The first story, Trout Fishing in America, can in my opinion, be
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 15, 2010 rated it did not like it
I didn't finish this...I only read a small part of it, "sectionally" (different sections in other words). After all, I only have so many hours left in in my life and I choose not to waste too many of them.

Maybe I'm one of those people who doesn't have a regular name, maybe it depends on you? Right. Can you string a group of contradictory words together (I heard through my eyes the feel of orange), can you line up non sequiturs in sentence and paragraph form? Then you to can write poetry as
Jul 15, 2007 rated it liked it
So then I read this after The Abortion and said to myself, "Oh, I guess this guy is maybe kind of an ass? And why does he equate taking the Pill with a mining disaster? Oh well, time for cheerleading practice." The picture on the front still kills me, and for that, an extra star. Remember when that guy renamed himself Trout Fishing in America? I'll bet that he had the best weed on campus.
Oct 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Q: If you were a Brautigan metaphor, which one would you be?

A: "I wander around the house like a sewing machine that's just finished sewing a turd to a garbage can lid."
May 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
I am mad. Mad that I haven't read any Brautigan until this year. Now that I have this book along with the last he wrote (An Unfortunate Woman) under my reading 'belt' I feel a little happier. This edition, i believe, combines three separate Brautigan works each of which has their merits and their serious entertainment value. There is a wide range of beauty, silliness and emotion in his poetry and the two stories (novels? novellas?) are equally wonderful. Due to his style and layout almost every ...more
Jul 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: students of 60's history
I read these books back in my hippie days and I fell in love with Brautigans prose. It was beautiful, simplistic and minimalist. He sketched pictures that had surprising detail in few words.


I've matured. These books will endure as classics in the minds of young liberals with loads of idealism and a longing to be modern-day hobo's, keeping their minds filled with mush and ignoring the complexity of reality.

Still, though, like reading Kerouac's journals, it offers a interesting insight into
Feb 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
You know that stoner from high school, the one with a golden heart and hateful eyes, the one that failed all his classes but had the intelligence to be a Nobel Prize winner, the one that wanted to establish world peace through sarcasm? That's who wrote this book, and it's scary good. Mix equal parts '60s rebelliousness (without overt politics), folksy americana, and surrealism, and you've got it. Snarky anarchy with the best metaphors I've ever read.
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love surreal/experimental writing so this was quite a pleasure for me. It was also a little eye-opening for me to read 'older' surrealism & if I had to sum it up I guess I'd say it's "surreal Americana". I can definitely see that some of the modern surreal/experimental writers I have read have probably taken inspiration from Brautigan.

Trout Fishing in America:
I saw this described somewhere as poetic prose & I agree. The work is almost like a series of short (under one page up to two
Mar 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: burnouts, sesame street characters
"Dear Trout Fishing in America,"

The silliest thing I've read in awhile, Brautigan uses metaphors that don't really make any sense but feel so original you might tend to take them at face value. Just 'cause it's easier to do so?

"...The other graveyard was for the poor and it had no trees and the grass turned a flat-tire brown in the summer and stayed that way until the rain, like a mechanic, began in the late autumn."

"The FBI agents watched the path, the trees, the black stump, the pool and the
Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Brautigan's poems are sad and silly and beautiful. His voice is like that of precocious child. Always painfully honest, his work is charming, if not a little kooky.
Brian Bess
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The lost Beat in his lonely world

Trout Fishing in America
I just read three of Richard Brautigan’s works in an omnibus volume for the first time in forty years. Brautigan is a writer that was unique in that I felt that if you compared him to other notable writers of the 1960’s, he would usually come up short. However, taken for himself and what he was attempting to do, I think he generally succeeded. His work was a blend of metafiction, magical realism, expanded consciousness, and flower power
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The collection opens with Trout Fishing in America, which is a series really short stories or prose poems (depending who you ask, and most would agree that either definition fits) that hang together cohesively but loosely. The method of metaphor and transformation of America from one era into another is as masterful as it is entertaining. The matters of words and history also play a strong role, as various literary critics have observed. Even if most of the symbolism doesn't stick for you, the ...more
May 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's rare that you find a book as experimental yet playful as "Trout Fishing in America." Normally I don't have the patience for novels that emphasize clever structure over compelling storyline. But the short stories in "Trout Fishing" are breezy reads that keep you reading because of Brautigan's lyrical, poetic writing. The characters themselves aren't as memorable as the portraits he paints of escapes into nature and the strange ways he twists the words "trout fishing in America" into ...more
Jan 23, 2009 rated it liked it
since this volume contained 3 of brautigan's books, let me break down the starred review. the three stars was primarily for 'in watermelon sugar,' which was sad, bizarre and a little haunting. i'd give 1 pithy little star to 'trout fishing in america,' which felt incredibly dusty, dated and drug-addled. 'the pill versus the springhill mine disaster' gets 2 stars for a few beautiful, gut-wrenching poems and a few really really bad ones. i'm glad i read brautigan but at least now i know he is not ...more
Richard Epstein
Jul 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
Into all of our lives come Mysteries of the Zeitgeist. There are no cures but time and patience. Eventually there will be a new Zeitgeist to tolerate. Dig up the sands of Egypt, and there, somewhere beneath The Book of the Dead and a Betamax copy of "The Scorpion King," you will find a book by an Egyptian Brautigan.
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
this was the first book i ever gave my boyfriend. we read passages back and forth to each other over the phone. some of my favorite poetry is in this book!
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Always spoiler free. This will be the most difficult review I have ever done because this book is beyond description. Richard Brautigan was born in 1935 and met a tragic death at the age of 49. He was a counter culture phenomenon and literary idol in the 1960s and early 1970s, especially among the young followers of the cultural upheavals and ideals of that time. His works have been called comic genius and an iconoclastic vision of American life.
He has a unique and humorous way of using
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
This is one of those books whose appeal I totally understand, but also don't really love. Which is to say: a lot of my talented, smart friends view this as a seminal book, and would cite Brautigan as one of their most influential writers, but maybe I came to it at the wrong time? There are moments of absolute, objective brilliance, when he's funny and sad and weird and accessible all at the same time, and then there are moments where my patience for seemingly arbitrary and folksy weirdness runs ...more
Oct 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Somewhat eye-crossing, in that this particular volume combines a few of Brautigan's books-- including a volume of largely excellent and surprising poetry-- and thus I must return to it (not an unpleasant task!) to take my time over each work in turn. Trout Fishing in America, while by far the least accessible work in the compilation in terms of prose, got me sort of humming in its groove. You could hear it stream by in your head, a voice from that particular America, the dry, lightly ...more
Aug 06, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, fiction
I had to lower my rating. I had read this book several years ago, as a teenager in love with the idea of being a rebel and to me, Brautigan was. So, perhaps when I rated it I added nostalgia: remembering the purple capret and insence burning while someone read to me, etc. But it's hard to judge something written in a differnt decade with differnt stuff floating around in the air and different sort of literary things going on. I wasn't there. I can't say much about in context of its own. But ...more
Mar 16, 2009 rated it liked it
I found this one randomly at the library, and I opened it to a utopian poem about a forest with deer and animals who are coexisting peacefully with computers- "watched over by machines of loving grace"- and I had to read more. The author is this crazy San Francisco hippie and Trout Fishing in America is loose sort of novel about wandering, while The Pill vs... is a collection of poems. My favorite part, though, was In Watermelon Sugar, also a novel. It seemed to take place in this ...more
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you don't like this book, you don't like fun. It's nonsensical quite often, and it's pretty much always silly, but you've got to have no sense of humour if you don't crack a smile while reading this. No matter what other interpretations people have come up with, I think the one thing everyone can agree on is that he WANTS you to laugh....more than anything, really.

Otherwise, I think he really pokes fun at the romanticism of classic American culture, and the larger notion of nostalgia.
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Silly, warm, sincere, biting and very odd. In Watermelon Sugar was my favorite of the three, a unsettling account from a surreal post-apoc commune that never really explains itself and I suspect deceives you into thinking there is more to ponder than there really is. Trout Fishing in America was all over the place (in quality and narrative), I'd read through a few snippets without anything grabbing me, and then hit something like 'Trout Fishing in America Terrorists" that would bowl me over. ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Although this book claims him as part of the Beat movement, he doesn't seem nearly so sexist and dickish as all that. He actually comes across as a pretty decent guy, just having fun with words. Not trying to squeeze every last ounce of Life and Beauty from beauty and life, only partially in sincerity but largely driven by a hyperactive sense of Self, but rather just finding things beautiful and enjoying life.
Jane Hanser
Apr 08, 2014 rated it liked it
I'd have to say I liked it - about as much as I'd like an acid trip. His writing is full of amazing metaphor and you never ever know what he's concocting with words and images but it's a sad commentary on a person who had a sad - though brilliant - life. The end of the book was just quite brilliant as well. Yes, to read Brautigan absolutely important - but because it didn't leave me with a satisfied feeling but rather an empty one.
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Possibly my favorite book of all time. If you haven't read Brautigan this is where you must start. Trout Fishing in America is the steak, the empty seemingly disconnected yet haunting metaphors in his poetry in the middle section is the key lime pie, and In Watermelon Sugar is the port wine. You will get drunk.
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Richard Brautigan was an American novelist, poet, and short-story writer. Born in Tacoma, Washington, he moved to San Francisco in the 1950s and began publishing poetry in 1957. He started writing novels in 1961 and is probably best known for his early work Trout Fishing in America. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1984.

“the sweet juices of your mouth
are like castles bathed in honey.
i've never had it done so gently before.
you have put a circle of castles
around my penis and you swirl them
like sunlight on the wings of birds.”
“I feel horrible. She doesn't
love me and I wander around
the house like a sewing machine
that's just finished sewing
a turd to a garbage can lid.”
More quotes…