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Responses > Scholarship

Richard Brautigan's legacy is his continued inspiration for creative efforts by others who interpret his work, or create their own in response. This node provides an overview of selected scholarship inspired by Brautigan, and links to further information and resources. Use the information below to learn more about creative responses to Brautigan's works.
Acolet, Fanny. "Georges Perec et Richard Brautigan au pays des Objets." Paris 7, 1999.
Alpert, Patricia Brennan."Tradition and Structure in Trout Fishing in America." Sir George Williams University, Montreal 1972.
Barber, John F. "Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography."
Master's Thesis. University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1988.
Basse, Jean-Bernard. "La Vision du Monde dans l'oeuvre de Richard Brautigan temps, fragmentation, épiphanie et humour." Université de Paris X, 1998.
Bintrim, Timothy. "A Confederate General Trout Fishing in Watermelon Sugar: Richard Brautigan and Reader-Response Criticism." Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, 1990.
Blunt, Roscoe Crosby. "A study of the Persona in Richard Brautigan's Prose." Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1974.
Brooks, Jeffrey Alan. "The Passing of Mr. Good: Unity in Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America." University of Delaware, Newark, 1989.
Brown, Sheila Goodman. "A Carnival of Fears: Affirmation in the Postmodern American Grotesque." Dissertation Abstracts International 53/03A (September 1992): 0809. Florida State University, 1992.
This study examines grotesque forms in postmodern American literature and the various modes which reflect postmodern concerns. . . . In particular, this study analyzes works by Tennessee Williams, Ken Kesey, Joseph Heller, Tom Robbins, Richard Brautigan, John Irving, Raymond Carver, and Sam Shepard, contrasting them to the earlier works of Sherwood Anderson, Nathanael West, and Flannery O'Connor.
Butts, Leonard Culver. "Nature in the Selected Works of Four Contemporary American Novelists." Dissertation Abstracts International 40/12 (1980): 6277A. The University of Tennessee, December 1979.
While much of recent American literature seems to exhibit only depression, despair, absurdity and alienation as characteristic responses to the bleakness of life in a modern technological society, a few literary artists have felt that the only recourse from, or alternative to, the constriction of spirit and feeling in the mechanized, computerized world is to return—almost in desperation—to "nature" as if humanity's only hope lay in rediscovering those "natural" or spontaneous hopes, desires, passions and dreams that make us fully human. We have not said enough, it seems to me, about these contemporary writers who, in taking the "return to nature" as one of their principal ways of recovering the wholeness of being that has been eroded by modern civilization, offer an optimistic alternative to the doomsayers of contemporary American literature. Thus this study is concerned with how and why novelists James Dickey, John Gardner, Richard Brautigan and John Updike are united in their interests in investigating the natural world as a means of restoring value and meaning to individual human lives.

These four writers, in suggesting that nature contains the means of countering the imposing threat of domination by civilization and in associating nature with the intuitive and imaginative freedom neglected by a highly scientific and rational society, are working within a well-defined literary tradition. In affirming the value of the "return to nature," Dickey, Gardner, Brautigan and Updike align themselves with those major American writers—Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Steinbeck, Hemingway and Faulkner—who have viewed the natural world as the source of forces which enable the individual to escape the suffocating crush of civilization. Dickey, Gardner, Brautigan, Updike, each in his own way, suggest that the movement into and return from the natural world can heal the broken spirit and release the suppressed physical and mental potential for an urban-oriented, over-specialized population. Thus these four novelists, like their romantic predecessors, search for the vital balance of nature and civilization, the conscious and unconscious minds. Their subject is humanity in the post-World War II world; but their theme is one that places them squarely in the tradition of American letters.
Chaffin, Terrell. "Seven Pieces for Violin and Piano," "I Lie Here in a Strange Girl's Apartment (Oh Marcia)," and "Erotica II."
Master's Thesis. University of California, San Diego, 1983.
Work includes violin and piano music, songs for the harp, electronic, and computer music. The title "I Lie Here in a Strange Girl's Apartment (Oh Marcia)" was inspired by the Brautigan poem of the same title, first published in 1967 in All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.
Colvin, Michael Paul. "Introduction to Richard Brautigan's Major Works 1957-1968." Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Natchitoches, Louisiana, 1970.
Dawson, J.S. "Fictions at the Speed of Light : Richard Brautigan as Postmodernist." Murdoch University. School of Humanities, Murdoch (Australia), 1988.
El-Haggen, Rasha. "Interpreting Richard Brautigan's The Kool-Aid Wino." University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1999.
An essay submitted by El-Haggen for an English class.

READ this paper.
Ghassemi, Parvin. "The Passive Hero in Roth and Brautigan." SUNY College at Brockport, 1980.
Giddens, Jerry. "Brautigan, Richard: A Literary and Cultural Biography." Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, 2008.
Gottschall, Claudia. "Unspeakable Visions": Beat Consciousness and its Textual Representation." Dissertation Abstracts International 54/09A (1993): 3435. University of Oregon, 1993.
This study explores the Beats' appropriation of Zen Buddhism into Western culture and its structures of signification. . . . Chapters IV-VI explore the influence of Zen on the works of Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan, and Tom Robbins. Kerouac's appropriation of Zen is highly cerebral and therefore remains limited by the differentiation of discursive structures. Brautigan uses Zen to introduce the elements of silence and in-difference into his fiction, and thereby reaches towards the very margins of language. Robbins's fiction illustrates the mind of the Zen lunatic and counters stasis and opposition through motion and harmony.
Graddy, Julia Colomitz. "Richard Brautigan and the Pastoral Romance." Masters Abstracts 16 (1978): 232. Florida Atlantic University, 1978.
Hearron, William Thomas. "New Approaches in the Post-Modern American Novel: Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, & Richard Brautigan." Dissertation Abstracts International 34/06A (1973): 3398A-99A. State University of New York at Buffalo, 1973.

READ this abstract.
Horvath, Brooke Kenton. "Dropping Out: Spiritual Crisis and Countercultural Attitudes in Four American Novelists of the 1960s." Dissertation Abstracts International 47/06A (1986): 2157A-58A. Purdue University, May 1986.
The 1960s was a decade of spiritual as well as political restlessness. The counterculture embodied one highly visible manifestation of this spiritual discontent and of the problems attending its resolution in contemporary America. The period's fiction constitutes a second manifestation of these concerns. As a social phenomenon, the counterculture also forms a significant part of the social context within which this fiction was written, a context affecting the attitudes and beliefs of many authors, including the four under consideration here: Walker Percy, John Updike, Richard Brautigan, and Thomas Pynchon. . . . Chapter Five discusses several works by Brautigan and the various ploys they use to gain imaginative control over death.
Huddleston, Joel Lee. "American Themes in the Novels of Richard Brautigan." East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, 1976.
Iftekharuddin, Farhat Mohammed. "Richard Brautigan: A Critical Look at Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar and The Abortion." Dissertation Abstracts International 50 (1990): 2896A. Oklahoma State University, July 1989.
Richard Brautigan who has often been cast as a writer of "hippie" fiction of the 1960's has proven himself otherwise with important novels like Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar, and The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966, novels that have made their impression and left their mark on the genre itself. An accomplished author, Brautigan's works are marked by a personal vision that is representative of many aspects of the American imagination. His genius lies in his ability to portray old themes of human alienation, broken dreams, and loneliness in completely new images that are often startling in their originality. Brautigan's special appeal to readers of all ages lies in his ability to capture the remnants of the American dream and frame it within either a lost pastoral background, or a utopian hope for a future society, or even to transform that dream into a sad burlesque. By doing so, the author has produced works that, on one hand, incorporate the sense of growing disaster, and on the other, provide the notion of possibilities within an increasingly detached contemporary society. The creative energy of Brautigan's works illumines the past anew and as a result certain aspects of the American imagination take on a deeper perspective and acquire a richer hue. Brautigan's novels are an assertion of his own identity in the development of the American myth.
Kent, Brian. "Trout Fishing in America: Death Mask of the Imagination."
Master's Thesis. University of Vermont, 1988.
Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America is one of the most distinctive books to come out of a decade of literary inventiveness and experimentation in the 1960s. [It] remains the artistic high point of his career and a book whose merits will likely endure. The book is organized into three major categories: the narrator's childhood memories, his experiences as an adult living in San Francisco, and his ongoing fishing trip through the western United States which provides the novel's central focus of activity. The narrator arrives at a new vision for how to cope with a hostile contemporary environment by assimilating and synthesizing important discoveries within these three categories of experience. Once he has arrived at this vision the narrator becomes a chronicler of how it came to be using insights revealed in the stylistic elements which inform his tale. The three most prominent stylistic features which convey the narrator's discovery, and hence Brautigan's artistic vision, are the abstract and spatial use of the novel's title phrase—Trout Fishing in America; the examination of and experimentation with linguistic and nonlinguistic forms; and the bizarre manipulation of language, particularly through similes and metaphors. The combination of Brautigan's narrative structure and stylistic expression dramatizes the crucial importance he places on using the mind, using the imagination, to create existence, rather than surrendering the mind to the corrupting influences of twentieth century America.
Khalili Jahromi, Sara. "Analysis of Narrative in Trout Fishing in America and In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan."
Master's Thesis. Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch, 26 January 2011.
The present thesis, adopting a poststructuralist approach, studies the narrative in Trout Fishing in America and In Watermelon Sugar, two novels by Richard Brautigan. The study benefits from deconstructive reading as one of the main foundations of poststructuralist narratology. Displaying deconstruction of important binary oppositions in these two narratives was the main concern of the thesis. The body of the thesis, chapter three and four, each is specified to the study of one of these two binaries. In chapter three, binary opposition of reality/fictionality is studied and the researcher shows how the boundary between these two is blurred. Language is also another tool through which the said binary is challenged. Chapter four studies the binary of past/present and includes subtitles such as narrative time, parody and binary opposition of presence/absence. Parodying particular genre or particular concepts is one of the outstanding characteristics of Brautigan’s works which is apparent in these two novels as well. The parodic nature of Trout Fishing in America is shown by pointing to the different references to American history and well known concepts. In In Watermelon Sugar, metanarrative of utopia collapses down and is replaced with the narratives, each capable of suggesting new definitions for utopia. Deconstruction of this metanarrative, rooted in history, literature and religion, is produced by deconstruction of another binary opposition that is presence/absence. The act of giving voice to the silent narrative or narratives within the text, as well as paying attention to the absent narrators releases the text from the dominancy of the present narrative and makes the hidden or silent narratives emerge.
Koloze, Jeffrey. "Abortion in Recent U.S. Fiction: A Study of the Rhetoric in Richard Brautigan's The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 and Stephen Freind's God's Children." Cleveland State University, 1991.
Kyllo, Kim R. "Utopia Unattained: A Study of Alienation in the Fiction of Richard Brautigan." Minnesota State University, Mankato, 1974.
Matlock, Phil D. "Deculturation: Richard Brautigan and the Conditioned Reader." Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, 1992.
Peters, Howard Glenn. "A Comparative Study of Richard Brautigan and Howard Nemerov." Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida, 1972.
Phillips, Rodney L. "'Forest Beatniks' and 'Urban Thoreaus'; Beat Literatuare and Nature (Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Lew Welch, Michael McClure)." Dissertation Abstracts International 57/05A (1996): 2104. Michigan State University, 1996.
Since the Beat Movement first rose to attention in 1955, critics have tended to view it as an urban phenomenon—the product of a post-war youth culture with roots in the cities of New York and San Francisco. This study examines another side of the Beat Movement: its strong desire for a reconnection with nature. Although each took a different path in attaining this goal, the four writers considered here—Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Lew Welch, and Michael McClure—sought a new and closer connection with the natural world. . . . The final chapter examines the work of several other writers of the Beat period and their contributions in regard to nature and environmental writing: Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen, Kirby Doyle, Ed Sanders, and Richard Brautigan.
Published as:
Phillips, Rodney L. "The Beat Goes On: Voices of the Second Generation." Forest Beatniks and Urban Thoreaus: Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Lew Welch and Michael McClure. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2000: 132-134.
In the final chapter, Phillips says for Brautigan, American nature was in a fallen state and showed little or no hope of revival.

READ this abstract.
Plummer, Sarah E. "How is a Woman Like a Watermelon?: Advocating a Psychological and Comparative Study of Brautigan's Novels."
Master's Thesis. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2010.
"How is a Woman Like a Watermelon" examines two of Richard Brautigan's novels, In Watermelon Sugar and An Unfortunate Woman, as they relate to each other in ways that offer a better understanding of each. This paper enriches an understanding of Brautigan's work by exploring the historical context of his writings, studying his style and presenting diverse interpretations in a mutually inclusive way that complements the multifaceted qualities of his writing. By studying Brautigan's novels in a comparative manner, the essential and distinctive principles that drive Brautigan's work—his manipulation of genre, use of memory and a complex first person narrator as an author persona—are better understood. Because of Brautigan's use of the first person, this study advocates an analytical psychological analysis aimed at discerning underlying emotion within apparent personal detachment, the use of projection as a defense mechanism, and the psychological associative value of words, images and memories. An inclusive and comparative study that foregrounds these psychological elements will ultimately allow for a more complete and subtle analysis of Brautigan's work.
Pritchard, Jan. "Telemachus Lost: Futility and Social Criticism in Three Black Humor Fictions: Cat's Cradle, Malcolm, and Trout Fishing in America." University of Western Australia, 1988.
Robbins, Gwen A. "A Magic Box and Richard Brautigan." Dissertation Abstracts International 40/08A (1980): 4592A. Oklahoma State University, July 1979.
Scope of Study
This dissertation examines Richard Brautigan's novels in relation to a magic box metaphor, that is, an implied comparison to a fictional technique that portrays through multiple modes of perception the various layers of reality. The aim here is to establish the magic box metaphor through Hermann Hesse's The Steppenwolf and examine its development in selected novels by other authors. In turn, this study will examine Richard Brautigan's use of the magic box metaphor in his eight novels to date.

Findings and Conclusions
This study reveals that the magic box metaphor explicit in Pablo's "Magic Theater" in The Steppenwolf stands for a certain type of fiction, which through multiple modes of perception reveals various levels of reality. As early as the Eighteenth century Defoe mixes imagination with concrete facts in Moll Flanders; Richardson portrays subjective states of mind through character, form, and symbol in Clarissa and while Austen conveys the classic construct of reality per se in Pride and Prejudice, Sterne portrays surreality through the mind of Tristam in Tristam Shandy. In the Nineteenth century, the Brontë sisters, Elliot, and Hardy introduce nature as a metaphor to reveal another mode of perception through which states of mind are portrayed; and in the Twentieth century, Nabakov like Hesse uses narrator, character, form, scene and structure to convey the many levels of reality that exist within the self. The analysis of Richard Brautigan's works reveals multiple use of the metaphor. His first two novels, Confederate General from Big Sur and Trout Fishing in America establish basic structural patterns. In Confederate General a scene plot line is supported by surrealistic elements, and in Trout Fishing in America a whole mosaic of boxes—chapters, sense impressions, dream scenes, symbols, metaphors—are controlled by the mind of the narrator and the imagination of the artist. The six novels that follow experiment in a variety of ways but in all eight of his works, Brautigan sees reality as a construct that can be exemplified in multiple dimensions. To Brautigan, reality is based on the personal perception of one's own multifaceted construct in which concrete experience is only the beginning departure.
Schiller, Neil. "The Historical Present: Notions of History, Time and Cultural Lineage in the Writing of Richard Brautigan."
Liverpool Hope University College, University of Liverpool, England, September 2003. Ph. D. Dissertation, in progress.

Feedback from Neil Schiller
Neil Schiller. Email to John F. Barber, 21 September 2003.
Online Resources
The introduction to Schiller's thesis at his website

Chapter 1 of Schiller's thesis, "The John Lennon of the Hippie Novel: Brautigan, the Beats, and the Counterculture," at his website

Chapter 3 of Schiller's thesis, "Pastiche and Postmodernism," at his website

Chapter 4 of Schiller's thesis, "The Postmodernist Model of Time," at his website

Chapter 5 of Schiller's thesis, "Zen and the Art of Richard Brautigan," at his website
Schroeder, Michael Leroy. "Rhetoric in New Fiction." Dissertation Abstracts International 4709A (1986): 3430A. Kent State University, August 1986.
Deals with Kurt Vonnegut, Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, and Richard Brautigan.
Richard Brautigan uses naive narrators to create ambiguity and irony through the conflict between their innocent tone and the frequently unpleasant and death-filled worlds they depict. Brautigan's outrageous similes and metaphors and his fantastic content illustrate his recurrent theme about the importance of the healthy imagination.
Sebald, Michael Clemens. "The Lingusitic Sensibility of Richard Brautigan: A Reading of The Abortion and Sombrero Fallout." Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, 1978.
Shin, Doo-Ho. "The Aesthetics of Indeterminacy: A Meeting Ground between Eastern Mysticism and Postmodernism and Selected Novels by Tom Robbins, Richard Brautigan, and Robert Pirsig." Dissertation Abstracts International 54/06A (1993): 2153. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1993.
Indeterminacy has become a dominant concern in postmodern literature and literary criticism as well as in other postmodern cultures and the research done [in] these areas demonstrates an abiding interest in indeterminacy. However, little effort has been made in establishing a meeting ground between Eastern mystical traditions and Western postmodern thought. And even less research has been done on the postmodern writers who pave a new way of understanding postmodern culture by establishing dialogue between the traditions of the East and literary postmodernism of the West.

This dissertation explores a meeting ground between Eastern mystical traditions and postmodern Western culture, attempts to account for it theoretically, and discusses how such dialogue works in selected novels by postmodernist writers, who not only employ postmodern indeterminacy but also incorporate Eastern mystical ideas in their works: Tom Robbins's [sic] Another Roadside Attraction, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America, and Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

By studying these three authors' dominant concerns as these [sic] out from indeterminacy, we get a better sense of how far they have taken us in a postmodernist East-West dialogue of contemporary thought and expression and how the Easterners are potentially well equipped with spiritual traditions not only to understand Western postmodern literary phenomena which are still new to most Eastern readers but also to develop their own culture specific versions of postmodern literature and criticism.
Sweatt, Suzanne Mitchell. "Postmodernism in the Fiction of Richard Brautigan." Dissertation Abstracts International 46/09A (1985): 2690A. Middle Tennessee State University, August 1985.
During his lifetime, Richard Brautigan published ten novels and one collection of short stories. The themes and techniques of these innovative works of fiction contribute to that division of contemporary literature known as post-modernism.

This study identifies postmodernist elements in Brautigan's fiction, establishes Brautigan as an early initiator of postmodernism, and evaluates his place in contemporary literature. Recognizing the growth of technology, a change in the perception of reality, and the difficulties in establishing individuality in this fragmented world, Brautigan presents an anti-hero who survives by transforming reality, by enduring, or by forming a relationship with another person.

The first chapter, drawing from the contemporary criticism of John Barth, Leslie Fiedler, Jerome Klinkowitz, David Lodge and others characterizes postmodernism. Features of postmodernism include flat characterization, lack of plot development, lack of epiphany, multiple endings, typographical play and, frequently, the appearance of artlessness.

Chapter II discusses Brautigan's fiction of the 1960s: A Confederate General from Big Sur, Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 and Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970. These novels established Brautigan's reputation as an innovative author.

The five novels that Brautigan published in the 1970s are the subject of Chapter III: The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western, Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery, Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel, Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942 and The Tokyo-Montana Express. Brautigan's further experimentation with the novel form is evident in these works.

Brautigan's final novel, published in 1982, So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away, blends elements of the traditional novel and the postmodernist novel to produce an important work. The study concludes that an understanding of Brautigan's themes and techniques can be best accomplished by knowing the totality of his fiction and the tenets of postmodernism.
Tanner, John E. "Language as Object: The Achievement and Context of Richard Brautigan's 1960s' Fiction." Bangor University, UK, 2010.
Tanner, in his doctoral thesis, points to the neglect and misunderstanding from which Brautigan's work has suffered and argues that his fiction deserves to be recognised as an important contribution to innovative American literature. He argues that Brautigan produced highly distinctive short stories, which blurred the boundaries between prose and poetry, and metafictional novels which rank alongside those of more acclaimed authors such as John Barth, Thomas Pynchon and Donald Barthelme. Moreover, with Trout Fishing in America he produced a work which transcended metafiction in a way that none of his peers had matched. Rather than offering a coherent representation of a perceived extra-textual world, the book operates in the same manner as some Cubist collages: references are made to exterior phenomena but the book as a whole can only be understood as a self-referring object. Trout Fishing achieves this not only through its language but through its graphical presentation, and not only through the formal text but through the pages preceding it and through the cover. The book is conceived as an integrated visual and semantic experience.
Feedback from John Tanner
John Tanner. Email to John F. Barber, 21 May 2013.
Utschig, Andrew Steven. "Rethinking Apathy: Political Apathy from Kerouac to Coupland." Dissertation Abstracts International 61/04A (2000): 1600. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2000.
In the post-war period in the United States, social scientists have often conflated apathy with non-participation or alienation. In addition, they have usually neither differentiated between apolitical and political variants of apathy, nor recognized that political apathy itself can take diverse forms. By contrast, this study argues that there are forms of apathy which are distinctly political, consciously chosen, and strategically staged. The dissertation investigates political apathy of this kind as it has been expressed in the writings of five authors often taken to be representative of American youth culture: Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan, Hunter S. Thompson, Jay McInerney, and Douglas Coupland. The study argues that these authors express political apathy to varying degrees, though the particular form is different for each writer.
Way, Brian T. W. "The Fiction of Fishing: Richard Brautigan's Metafictional Romance." Dissertation Abstracts International 53/11A (1991): 3914. The University of Western Ontario (Canada), 1991.
This dissertation offers a reassessment of Brautigan's oeuvre by advancing a contemporary reading of his works within the critical and cultural environment of his times. After a preliminary examination of So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away to illustrate the artful complexity of Brautigan's final work, the dissertation examines the critical and literary framework that surrounded Brautigan's earliest writings, submitting that his works are best understood in a postmodern critical context. Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur, and In Watermelon Sugar are examined as metafictions, self-reflexive works that are concerned primarily with the nature of words and texts and which foreground the text itself as the dominant subject of fiction. In the 1970s, Brautigan turns this fully developed metafictional sensibility toward the genres of popular romance. Through a metafictional combination and adaptation of several romance forms, including western, gothic, erotic, detective and historical romance, these genre experimentations move Brautigan toward the development of a unique hybrid text that aspires to enfold all forms of human discourse in an elastic fictive structure—such is the final substance of Richard Brautigan's metafictional romance.
Wheeler, Elizabeth Patricia. "The Frontier Sensibility in Novels of Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan and Tom Robbins." Dissertation Abstracts International 46/04A October 1985: 985A. State University of New York at Stony Brook, December 1984.
. . . [T]he frontier is still affecting American culture and . . . a metaphorical frontier developed alongside the historical one . . . is still alive in Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1956), Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing In America (1967), and Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976). . . . In Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America the frontier only exists in the imagination, but in the novel creations of the imagination are the equal of objective reality. Like the historical pioneers, the protagonist and his family travel in search of a geographic paradise, but given the conventions of the frontier-inspired novel their quest is doomed. They move, though, for the frontier lives on in dreams and in works of the imagination such as this novel in which the imaginary is as real as the freeway that leads only to more freeway.