Books for the Road… And the Ragged Edge

March 22, 2008 By: Marshall Cutchin

An unsuspecting angler might pick up Richard Brautigan’s 1967 book Trout Fishing in America and guess wrongly that he was about to read a guide to the country’s cold water fisheries. In fact, the book has almost nothing to do with trout fishing but provides a condemnation of a cultural turn away from nature.
Interestingly, Brautigan was also featured in the UYA production of “Tarpon,” made in 1974, and coined the phrase “fishing on the ragged edge” in the movie: further evidence that some of the roots of counter-culture literature in the U.S. are closely entwined with fly fishing.
This from the Wikipedia entry on Brautigan: “To his critics, Brautigan was willfully naive. Lawrence Ferlinghetti said of him, ‘As an editor I was always waiting for Richard to grow up as a writer. It seems to me he was essentially a naïf, and I don’t think he cultivated that childishness, I think it came naturally. It was like he was much more in tune with the trout in America than with people.'”