Recently I have been reading Richard Brautigan's 'In Watermelon Sugar' in conjunction with Sherwood Anderson's 'Winesburg, Ohio'. I find certain similarities in the two books, the action taking place in dreamlike landscapes and characters often being types, or "grotesques" as Anderson calls them. 'In Watermelon Sugar' also reminds me of Carl Sandburg's 'Rootabaga Stories', whimsical stories about the Potato Face Blind Man, Blue Wind Boy and others of their ilk.
We live in a world of symbols, we humans on earth with all our languages. The fish, a live, vibrant creature of our oceans, lakes and streams is also a symbol of hope, love and community. This was true for many primary peoples, for early Christians, and for young hippies who read Richard Brautigan's books, 'In Watermelon Sugar' and 'Trout Fishing in America'. In both books trout are used extensively as symbols and realities.
Henry Miller was born on December 26, 1891 in the Yorkville section of Manhattan to first generation German-Americans. It was his mother, Louise, who spurned the writer and the rebel in him. She beat up his sister for the "crime" of being retarded, scolded his father for being a dreamy alcoholic, and hid Henry's typewriter in a closet to hide the embarrassment of having a writer for a son. His childhood was not easy. He was a great reader, reciting Old Testament stories out loud even before he stared elementary school. He graduated second in his class from Eastern District High School in Brooklyn.
He dropped out of City College after two months because he didn't like the reading list they gave him. "If I had to read stuff like that," he said, referring to 'Fairee Queene' by Spenser, "I give up." He went to work at a series of jobs he found himself unsuitable for.
Jean Genet was born on December 19, 1910 in Paris, France and soon afterwards abandoned by his unmarried mother. Raised by a family of peasants, he began stealing, and getting caught, at a young age. He became accustomed to harsh reform schools as a child and easily made the transition to prison as an adult.