Downstream from Trout Fishing in America: A Memoir of Richard Brautigan

Keith Abbott, Author Capra Press $18.95 (174p) ISBN 978-0-88496-293-9
Brautigan ``looked like a cross between Mark Twain and a heron,'' in Abbott's strikingly apt phrase, yet this empathic memoir is for the birds. The poet-novelist, best remembered for his semi-surreal fictional whimsies ( Trout Fishing in America ; In Watermelon Sugar , etc.) was found dead in his house in Bolinas, Calif. in 1984. Abbott, who knew him for 18 years, traces Brautigan's slow descent into alcoholism and paranoia. There are revelations about his two failed marriages, sordid antics like watching porno flicks at Christmas and blasting his kitchen wall with gunshot, his childhood of poverty and neglect (his mother abandoned him several times, stepfathers abused him). Abbott is insightful and sympathetic, but the problem is that it's hard to make a perpetual adolescent hold one's interest for 180 pages. He portrays his one-time buddy as a tragic figure trapped inside an ``ahistorical imagination.'' Photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
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