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I Mean What Do You Do Besides Being a Confederate General?

9 March 2012 / 0 Comments

Saltpeter ran their first Brautigan Book Club recently where they were discussing Richard Brautigan's A Confederate General from Big Sur. Fuchsia Voremberg tells Reading Groups for Everyone what happened:

It seems just that for a book containing so many inadequate modes of transportation (the truck without a gas tank, Lee Mellon's $400 pile of motorcycle, the Union captain's stolen boots), our inaugural meeting was almost thwarted by delays on the London Underground. Our friends, guests and pomegranates did arrive at the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club eventually though, and award winning poet and charmer Rishi Dashitar gave a wonderful presentation, setting the bar high for future guests.

After Rishi took us on a journey through the New York Times' attempts to fact check the meteorological accuracy of one of Brautigan's poems, he eloquently shifted his presentation into a reading of his own poetry, which responded creatively and ingeniously to this idea, perfectly encapsulating the ethos of our club.


The rest of the evening was divided between the Beach Boys, traditional book club discussion, stories of adolescence, lost love and adventure, friend making, origami frog making, and general merriment. One guest brought an orange and pomegranate polenta cake, another played a recording of Brautigan reading from the book and in all, this felt like a very successful first meeting. I left feeling inspired and energized, and as I took the tube home I found myself genuinely considering the practical possibilities of carving a battleship out of a celery root.

Read Vera Chok's feature on why she started The Brautigan Book Club.

The next Brautigan Book Club meeting

Our next meeting will be on the 27th March and will centre around what is probably Brautigan's most well known and widely available book, Trout Fishing in America. The guest speaker, writer and illustrator Fuchsia Voremberg, will be making a mysterious presentation about what she calls her 'Kool-Aid Conspiracy Theory'. We welcome any and all willing participants, but if you feel that you might have something special to bring to the table then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Is it about trout fishing?

No. Yes. No. It is and it isn't. The book is really surreal. At one point one character says to another, "Pardon me, I thought you were a river". That should give you an idea. Clever usually bugs me, if it's clever for clever's sake, if it doesn't get to something deeper. What distinguishes Brautigan is that, despite this goofy sensibility and his wit, I always feel this clear-eyed moral vision that I can trust. Jonathan Evison talking about Trout Fishing in America.

Venue: Downstairs, The Bethnal Green Working Men's Club
Date: Tuesday, 27th March
Time: Doors at 7pm for a 7.30pm start
Tickets: free but booking is required

If you'd like to contact The Brautigan Book Club, email

Get involved

Find out more on the Trout Fishing page on the foremost Brautigan online archive. including the ebay auction picture of Brautigan's seven-foot, two-section bamboo fly rod and reel used on his fishing trips.

Listen to recordings of Brautigan reading his own work, including a passage from Trout Fishing, The Hunchback Trout

Find out more about The Brautigan Book Club.

If you'd like to tell us about what happens at your book club, please do get in touch.


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