"Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you’re “supposed to” think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it, because it’s hard, it takes will and mental effort, and if you’re like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat-out won’t want to. But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her little child in the checkout line - maybe she’s not usually like this; maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who’s dying of bone cancer, or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the Motor Vehicles Dept who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a nightmarish red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible - it just depends on what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important - if you want to operate on your default setting - then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren’t pointless and annoying. But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars - compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff’s necessarily true: the only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship."
— David Foster Wallace, “This Is Water,” Kenyon College Commencement Speech, 2005
Brautigan fastidiously controlled each novel’s jacket, typography, layout, and even promotional materials. Such powers, rarely bestowed on any author, resulted in the Brautigan brand, arguably more famous than anything in the books themselves. The cover photo for Trout Fishing in America is exemplary: in front of the Benjamin Franklin statue in San Francisco’s Washington Square Park, Brautigan appears like a Gold Rush prospector, his girlfriend at his side in style. For his friend Keith Abbott, the photo displays “His open, cheerful, confident expression … characteristic of his belief in his prospects, while his blue work shirt displays the uniform of artistic poverty”. The increasingly beautiful girlfriends, who always joined the author on his covers, were integral to his mystique. (via)