Jerome Klinkowitz mentions Brautigan in the prologue to Literary Disruptions: The Making of Post-Contemporary American Fiction
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From the Prologue to Literary Disruptions: The Making of a Post-Contemporary American Fiction

by Jerome Klinkowitz?

The Exagggerations of Peter Prince shows that on the level of sentiment, at least, certain stories outstrip formal bounds. Richard Brautigan's fiction demonstrates the same on the level of language and idea. The former can exist in a pure substanceless state, not only in the highest of mathematical abstractions, but more often in the most mundane of common lives. He concludes Trout Fishing in America (1967) with one such example, a letter of bereavement which in its very typicality suggests how language can exist purely as itself, with no reference at all to content:

Feb 3-1952

Dearest Florence and Harv,

I just heard from Edith about the passing of Mr. Good. Our heart goes out to you in deepest sympathy Gods will be done. He has lived a good Long life and he has gone to a better place. You were expecting it and it was nice you could see him yesterday even if he did not know you. You have our prayers and love and we will see you soon.

God bless you both.

Love Mother and Nancy.

That such lifeless substance can be transformed into something imaginatively viable is seen by Brautigan's artistic act: he has always wanted to end a book with the word "mayonnaise," so to this letter (which forms his last chapter, "The Mayonnaise Chapter"), he adds the P.S.: "Sorry I forgot to give you the mayonnaise." Life can exist in pure forms as well, most often in the quotidian elements we never question, such as a Deanna Durbin movie. "She sang a lot. Maybe she was a chorus girl who wanted to go to college or she was a rich girl or they needed money or something or she did something. Whatever it was about, she sang! and sang! but I can't remember a God-damn word of it." The narrator, while unable to describe a single Deanna Durbin film, can picture all of them. If content is so facile and even relatively unimportant, may we not then transform it, reshape it to better suit our needs? Brautigan does this very thing by drawing on the poetic technique of metaphor. He sees objects more clearly through the magic of an apt, implied comparison. Each page speaks in images, such as dust looking "like the light from a Coleman lantern," the smell of Lysol in a hotel lobby, sitting "like another guest on the stuffed furniture, reading a copy of the Chronicle, the Sports Section," or a character looking up "from underneath a tattered revolution of old blankets." Perception, for Brautigan, is an act of constant comparison. A ukulele seems "pulled — like a plow through the intestine"; more lyrically, "The water bugs were so small I practically had to lay my vision like a drowned orange on the mud puddle." His very title, Trout Fishing in America, is pushed to imaginative limits: it takes place as a life experience, a hotel, or a paraplegic wino crated and shipped to Nelson Algren in Chicago. The trout stream is finally sold in foot lengths at the Cleveland Wrecking Yard?. Brautigan's metaphors create a lyrical space, a clarifying distance between object and perceiver so that the former may make some sense. John J. Clayton? observes that "the view I'm offered at the Cleveland Wrecking Yard's window is one of bitterness and deadening brick. But Brautigan lets me out of dealing with that desperate reality (and I want to be let out); he snatches me up inside his process of imagination the magazines eroding like the Grand Canyon, the magical perception of the patients' complaints. I am given imaginative magic as a liberation from decay." To create a metaphor is imaginative; to extend it and draw in the readers' participation is an act of magic, a kinesthesis of facts that can more effectively capture and reflect the world. As the narrator of Trout Fishing in America remarks of a young doctor out camping, "he was leaving for America, often only a place in the mind." It is Richard Brautigan's genius to have found the imaginative apparatus for telling such otherwise untellable stories.

Literary Disruptions: The Making of a
Post-Contemporary American Fiction
University of Illinois Press, 1975