Arion Lyre

65. Trout Fishing in America, by Richard Brautigan

Trout fishing in America by Richard Brautigan, with a preface by Ron Loewinsohn and a photographic portrait of the author by Edmund Shea, and in half the edition a color lithograph by Wayne Thiebaud, 2003.

The publication of a deluxe edition of Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America enshrines a novel written forty years ago that was immediately recognized as an important invention by discerning readers and became a cult classic. It has since assumed its rightful place in the canon of American literature.

Trout Fishing in America

Trout Fishing in America is a landmark in American prose fiction. Some think it more poetry than prose. It is certainly a departure from mainstream fiction up to that time. "Trout Fishing in America" is the title of the book; but it is also persons, places, things, and a state of mind. On the endpapers of this edition we have printed in two colors the various uses of the phrase in the novel, where it can be a ballet, an autopsy, a terrorist, a character named Shorty, a hotel, armor, a fountain-pen nib, a peace parade, a friend. You must read the chapter titles as text, because without cognizance of them what follows may make no sense. This is a humorous book; it is also very poignant, and it is surreal. It invites you to take along a yardstick when you go to the junkyard, to measure off sections of a used trout stream stacked up for sale. You will see the world in a different way through Trout Fishing in America goggles ( not one of Brautigan's usages).

Richard's friend the writer Ron Loewinsohn was named on the dedication page of Trout Fishing in America along with Jack Spicer, the influential poet who, together with Ron, was an early reader of the manuscript-in-progress. Loewinsohn, born in 1937, graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1967, and received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1971. He has been on the faculty of the English Department at Berkeley since 1970, teaching American literature and creative writing. In 1959 his first volume of poetry, Watermelons, had an introduction by Allen Ginsberg and a prefatory letter by William Carlos Williams. He is the author of several additional volumes of poetry, including Meat Air: Poems 1957-1969 (1970), and the novels Magnetic Field(s) (1983, reissued by Dalkey Archive Press, 2002) and Where All the Ladders Start (1987). Professor Loewinsohn has written a new introductory essay for this book. It contains a helpful explication of the novel and observations on the life of the author from his intimate knowledge of the writer and his works.

This edition also contains a portrait of the author, a photograph taken in 1967 by Edmund Shea, published here for the first time. Shea, also a long-time friend of Brautigan, is an artist-photographer whose pictures appear on the covers of most of Brautigan's books. Shea also took photographs of San Francisco locations referred to in The Maltese Falcon for the Arion Press edition of the hardboiled detective novel by Dashiell Hammett (1983).

In half the edition, a color lithograph by Wayne Thiebaud is bound in. This is an image of a fish, a ubiquitous fish, certainly not a trout, that lies at the bottom of a slow-moving stream or a still pond or possibly an aquarium. The fish might be alive; it might be dead. It is as enigmatic as the trout in Trout Fishing in America. Thiebaud made this print in 1994 in a series of color lithographs produced for the Arion Press edition of The Physiology of Taste, the culinary classic by Brillat-Savarin, translated by M. F. K. Fisher. This particular image was not used in the book but the prints were saved for a later Arion project. The fish has found its perfect purpose in this book.

Wayne Thiebaud is one of America's foremost artists. Of the recent retrospective exhibition of his paintings at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Michael Kimmelman, the chief art critic for the New York Times, wrote that in an ideal world Thiebaud's paintings would be permanently attached to the museum's walls. The artist has also illustrated the Arion Press edition of Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver, published in 1999.

The photographic portrait of the author was printed by Watermark Graphics in San Francisco, using stochastic screening for duotone photolithography. The color lithograph was printed by Trillium Graphics in Brisbane, California. The image is 10 by 7.25 inches. The artist has signed the page facing the lithograph in the two hundred copies with the print bound in.


The format is 11.75 by 8.75 inches, 124 pages. The type is Bookman, composed and cast on the Monotype, with foundry type of the same face in hand composition for display. The type was cast by our second division, Mackenzie & Harris. The text was printed by letterpress on Mohawk Superfine paper. In this prospectus the same paper and type are used, however this text is in a smaller size than that of the book.

The binding is handsewn with linen thread over linen tapes, in boards covered with two colors of cloth: blue over the back cover, spine, and a portion of the front cover; gray for the balance of the front cover. Author's name and title are printed on the spine and a pattern representing fish scales is printed on the blue cloth where it meets the gray. On the gray cloth is printed the title and author's name, separated by a drawing of the fish by Richard Brautigan that appeared on the dedication page of the first edition.


This is the sixty-fifth publication of Arion Press. Trout Fishing in Amercia is limited to 400 numbered copies for sale and 26 lettered copies for complimentary distribution to participants in the project. Half the edition has a color lithograph by Wayne Thiebaud bound in.

Edition of the book with Thiebaud print (200 copies) $650. Out of print.
Edition of the book without Thiebaud print (200 copies): $450. Available

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Edition: The format is 11-3/4 by 8-34 inches, 124 pages. Binding: hand-sewn over tapes, two colors of cloth over boards. Price: $450.

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