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Characterized by Counterculture: The Decline of Richard Brautigan Essays

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All throughout the late 1960s, Richard Brautigan experienced immense popularity. Every book he published up to the 1970s, from Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur, to In Watermelon Sugar gained critical acclaim. Critics hailed Brautigan “as a fresh new voice in American literature” (Barber 4). He was adored by both readers and critics alike, and many consider his most famous book, Trout Fishing in America, to be one of the first popular representatives of postmodern literature (4). His books became cult classics among the youth generation of the time, the infamous counterculture that arose during the 1960s. This counterculture was that of the hippie youth movement, which started from the cultural values of the Beat Generation. The hippie youth movement created their own culture characterized by psychedelic rock, open sexuality and the use of hallucinogens.
After the publication of In Watermelon Sugar in 1968, Brautigan’s popularity seemed to be at its peak (Foster 97). From that point on Brautigan’s work was received with harsh criticism, and his popularity diminished. Starting with Brautigan’s 1971 novel The Abortion, critics were quick to disparage his books. One critic wrote that if The Abortion was written for an exercise in a creative writing class “it might get a C minus” (Hill 89). Critics dismissed his works without hesitation. As quickly as Richard Brautigan was skyrocketed to fame, he fell down from it. His older, more admired works were nothing more than memories from the past. His audience disappeared, leaving him in seclusion. Brautigan’s popularity dropped so fast, that one is compelled to wonder why his later works were so detested, and more importantly, what led to this sudden drop. The...


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Lask, Thomas. "The Abortion." New York Times 30 Mar. 1971: 33.
Murphy, Patrick J. "The Price of Fame: Two Instructive Accounts." Pulse Literary Magazine. 21 October 2003.

Taylor, Robert E. Ahead of the Curve. N. pag. Birth_Of_Environmentalism. Web. 15 Nov. 2009.
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"The Po-Mo Page:
Postmodern, Postmodernism, Postmodernity." Georgetown University: Web hosting. Web. .

"Vietnam War." GlobalSecurity.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. y/ops/vietnam.htm>.

Whissen, Thomas Reed. "Trout Fishing in America." Classic Cult Fiction: A Companion to Popular Cult Literature. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992. 274-279.

Yardley, Jonathan. "Still Loving." The New Republic 20 March 1971: 24-25.


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