‘Trout Fishing in America’ is a novella written by Richard Brautigan, published in 1967. The style is almost child-like with a dream-like surrealism; Trout Fishing in America actually becomes a character…
This is what motivated ‘The Sea Lies in Lincoln’.
The Sea Lies in Lincoln
I remember a time from my past. It was winter and Cold was everywhere. I had parked the car and had decided to walk along some streets in order to get somewhere. The streets had buildings with satisfying patterns, but they had people walking in and out of where I wanted to go. This made my eyes narrow and I remember wondering why they all had to be there, even the ones I vaguely liked the look of.
The Clouds didn’t say much as they passed by in a constant motion above my head. They didn’t need to dodge anyone and looked mildly pleased with themselves. It didn’t help my situation, but I was glad they weren’t bothering me. The Wind on the other hand just wouldn’t leave me alone and kept muttering things into my ear.
I found another street with a nice angle, but the people were still there. The Wind kept droning on about something or other, and I tried my best to ignore it by looking at the lines and patterns of the satisfying buildings. Each step brought me a new pattern to look at. The colours changed too, but not enough to hide the dirt.
After a time, I turned off the angular street and arrived at the place I wanted to be. The people continued to bounce around each other on the streets, and the dirt certainly didn’t disappear, but The Wind had finally got the message. My eyes un-narrowed as I stared ahead. It was The Sea. I could see right across The Sea which reminded me briefly of an old nursery rhyme. On the other side there were huge lights that formed words. Some were red, but the green one was my favourite; it made a strange word that I immediately read. I remember thinking I was always going to read that word, even if I didn’t want to. The Wind was on the other side too, trying to get into some other people’s ears.
I ignored The Wind and the green word in lights and stared again at The Sea. ‘There you are,’ I thought.
But something was wrong. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I looked around. The bird crap on the path certainly looked authentic enough, but the way the water moved concerned me. It was too still. I wondered whether The Wind had spoken to The Sea lately, and then it occurred to me that The Sea normally had a beach, or a cliff, or some sort of magnificent rocky thing going on. This was a path. A bird-shitty path. ‘The alarm bells should have sounded when I could read the red and green words,’ I remember thinking.
“What the hell are you?!” I yelled.
Advice of The Wind
Once I had spoken aloud, The Wind noticed me again and advised me that this wasn’t The Sea at all, but it was, in fact, The Brayford, in Lincoln. The Sea, The Wind continued, was miles away in an easterly direction.
This pissed me off, but I thanked it all the same.
“Thank you,” I said, and went and found another dirty street with some more people.