Trout Fishing in America is not at all about trout fishing. Trout fishing is merely an ambiguous metaphor. The cover of the book is a photograph of Richard Brautigan and a friend identified as Michaela Le Grand, whom he referred to as his "Muse." The photo was taken in San Francisco's Washington Square Park in front of the Benjamin Franklin statue. The first chapter of the book is an extended and fanciful description of this photo. Richard Brautigan was a seminal figure in 196os literature. He died of a self-inflicted .44 Magnum gunshot wound to the head. He left a suicide note that simply read: "Messy, isn't it?"