Synopses & Reviews
Like Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood
and Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio
, Brian Doyle's stunning fiction debut brings a town to life through the jumbled lives and braided stories of its people.
In a small fictional town on the Oregon coast there are love affairs and almost-love-affairs, mystery and hilarity, bears and tears, brawls and boats, a garrulous logger and a silent doctor, rain and pain, Irish immigrants and Salish stories, mud and laughter. There's a Department of Public Works that gives haircuts and counts insects, a policeman addicted to Puccini, a philosophizing crow, beer and berries. An expedition is mounted, a crime committed, and there's an unbelievably huge picnic on the football field. Babies are born. A car is cut in half with a saw. A river confesses what it's thinking...
It's the tale of a town, written in a distinct and lyrical voice, and readers will close the book more than a little sad to leave the village of Neawanaka, on the wet coast of Oregon, beneath the hills that used to boast the biggest trees in the history of the world.
"Community is the beating heart of this fresh, memorable debut with an omniscient narrator and dozens of characters living in Neawanaka, a small coastal Oregon town. Daniel Cooney, a 12-year-old who wears his hair in three different-colored braids, has a terrible bike accident in the woods and is rescued by a bear. Daniel's grandfather, Worried Man, is able to sense others' pain even from a distance and goes on a dangerous mountain mission to track down the source of time with his dear friend, Cedar. Other key stories involve a young police officer whose life is threatened, a doctor who smokes one cigarette for each apostle per day, a lusty teenage couple who work at a shingle factory, and a crow who can speak English. The fantastical blends with the natural elements in this original, postmodern, shimmering tapestry of small-town life that profits from the oral traditions of the town's population of Native Americans and Irish immigrants. Those intrigued by the cultural heritage of the Pacific Northwest will treasure every lyrical sentence. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"If my high-hearted friend Brian Doyle is trying to avoid the nickname 'Paddy,' his wondrous Oregon Coast novel is the wrong feckin' way to go about it. In its sights, settings, insinuations, flora and fauna, his tale is quintessential North Coast, but in its sensibility and lilt this story is as Irish as tin whistles — and the pairing is an unprecedented delight. This thing reads like an Uilleann pipe tour de force by a Sligo County maestro cast up on the shores of County Tillamook. The hauntings and shadows, shards of dark and bright, usurpations by wonder, lust, blarney, yearning, are coast-mythic in flavor but entirely bardic at heart. Doyle's sleights of hand, word, and reality burr up off the page the way bits of heather burr out of a handmade Irish sweater yet the same sweater is stained indigenous orange by a thousand Netarts Bay salmonberries. I've read no Northwest novel remotely like it and enjoyed few novels more. Of an Irishman's Oregon I am nothing but glad to have wandered, Mink River sings and sings." David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and The River Why
"Absolutely in the tradition of Northwest literature, richly imagined, distinctive, beautiful... I was pulled along steadily, my heart raced, I held my breath..." Molly Gloss, author of The Hearts of Horses and The Jump-Off Creek
"Doyle writes with an inventive and seductive style that echoes that of ancient storytellers. This lyrical mix of natural history, poetry, and Salish and Celtic lore offers crime, heartaches, celebrations, healing, and death....Enthusiastically recommended." Library Journal
"The greatest gift of Mink River is that it provides every reason in the world to see your own village, neighborhood and life in a deeper, more nuanced and connected way." Oregonian
The story of the small Oregon coast town of Neawanaka and its people.
About the Author
Brian Doyle is the author of ten books, including Thirsty for the Joy: Australian and American Voices, Epiphanies and Elegies, and The Wet Engine. He edits Portland Magazine at the University of Portland. Doyle's essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Orion, the American Scholar, and in newspapers and magazines around the world. His essays have also been reprinted in the annual Best American Essays, Best American Science and Nature Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies. Among various honors for his work is the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Read exclusive essays by Brian Doyle from 2010