Brian Doyle Updated|2016
December 13, 2016
Brian Doyle was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. He had surgery last week in Portland and is recovering from the surgery. However, he has a long road ahead.
He is a marvelous human being, struck with a nasty diagnosis. We who have crossed his path wish him a recovery.
If you would like to contribute to a GoFundme campaign on behalf of his family please go to:
Brian Doyle, author of Mink River, The Plover, and too numerous to count insightful full-of-truths essays was in Bellingham, Washington last night. Again. He was the headliner for the Chuckanut Radio Hour show, hosted by producers Chuck and Dee Robinson owners of Village Books in Bellingham, recently called one of the top four bookstores in America.
Brian is a regional favorite although he hails from Portland, Oregon our hipster sister community to the south some 250 miles. Perhaps both cities have equal tattoo to body parts ratios, Brian excluded.
He has a new book out, Martin Marten. It’s billed as a YA book (young adult genre) but I suspect the themes transcend that generation and move right up the chain to those of us old enough to remember when we were 14.
Martin Marten is written out of the head of a young person with an encyclopedic, careening vocabulary at moments, with a cast of supporting characters.
But I know Brian as a guest on my once-weekly, (unless I am called more often) radio interview show, Skagit Talks on KSVR, KSVU and KSJU fm, Community Radio stations in Mt Vernon, WA. He was assigned to me via email.
At first I said yes because I have a soft spot for authors. In fact I was on vacation with my granddaughter, checking my cell phone, when I said yes. His name sounded vaguely familiar, although I was not sure why. Then the requester typed the words Mink River. That rang a bell. I had a vision of the title prominently displayed on the bookshelf in the Sea-Tac airport. OMG I texted back to the requestor.
I want to tell you how difficult it is to find a NW author, even Brian Doyle, in Orlando, Florida. “The book’s been in print five years now,” said the clerk in Barnes and Noble. “We can’t keep every book on the shelf.”
In the meantime I downloaded The Plover, a gem of a novel about sailor extraordinaire Declan, a guy who made an appearance in Mink River, and his voyage across the Great Pacific in a small boat, collecting other strays along the way. Including a talking gull.
By the time Brian arrived in the radio studio— dressed in his author wardrobe: khakis, a black shirt, leather bomber jacket, polished dress shoes—I was ready. At least I thought, nervously.
But it’s impossible to be ready for Brian for he is a man of flowing words, truths, lies, funny stories, tugs at his whiskers— a master of the one-raised eyebrow trick with bits of Gaelic interspersed at just the right moments. He is a one-man proponent of lifting up your neighbor, kindness to others and deeply moving philosophical rants, often in essays published in the University of Portland’s Quarterly magazine (where he is resident editor) and even on the next-to-back page of the most recent University of Puget Sound’s Arches magazine. Chuck Luce, the UPS editor, knows a great essayist when he sees or reads one. Brian is your guy.
So I share with you two things now. First is my intro for Brian that did make him squint his eyes up tight, incredulous perhaps, at what I was saying. Then a link to the interview, which followed.
It was St Patrick’s Day, and he was the co-headliner with renown Irish poet Tony Curtis at a festive fundraiser for the local Celtic Arts Foundation.
If you want to get lost in a book, and you don’t mind unusual punctuation that flows, while it’s carrying you to the land of talking birds and unrelenting seas and lists of birds and flora and fauna and feelings, I recommend Brian Doyle. Strongly.
He is a storycatcher. A storyteller. A muse.
BRIAN DOYLE edits Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He is the author of six collections of essays, two nonfiction books, two collections of “proems,” the short story collection Bin Laden’s Bald Spot, the novella Cat’s Foot, and the novels Mink River, The Plover, and Martin Marten. He is also the editor of several anthologies, including Ho`olaule`a, a collection of writing about the Pacific islands. Doyle’s books have seven times been finalists for the Oregon Book Award, and his essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion, The American Scholar, The Sun, The Georgia Review, and in newspapers and magazines around the world, including The New York Times, The Times of London, and The Age (in Australia). His essays have also been reprinted in the annual Best American Essays, Best American Science & Nature Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies. Among various honors for his work is a Catholic Book Award, three Pushcart Prizes, the John Burroughs Award for Nature Essays, Foreword Reviews’ Novel of the Year award in 2011, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2008 (previous recipients include Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O’Connor, and Mary Oliver).
He is with me today in the studio, fresh off a plane, and headed for an evening of big doings in the Skagit Valley, on this St. Patrick’s Day 2015.
As an interviewer, a reader of literary fiction, and a Creative Writing student it is nearly impossible to describe the writings of Brian Doyle. But in his own style I will try.
He loves lists: imagine a story where the entire contents of a room, down to the sharpened pencil tips, are described in a long list with no commas no pauses to breathe no conversations interrupting just a listing of the minutia including the sounds of the chickadees, eagles, brants, snow geese, trumpeter swans, goldfinches, robins, and Asiatic doves and bobwhites (that have migrated-in recently), all outside the window of the room where a blue ceramic vase holds the pencils captive.
To my new friends.
Brian Doyle interview
Tony Curtis interview
Category: Indie It Books