Monday, October 18, 2010

Launching Brian Doyle's First Novel

I'm just going to come right out and say it. We LOVE Brian Doyle. Truly. He's read at the store copious times in the past with his nonfiction writing. And he was a big hit introducing Robin Cody at the launch of Robin's book Another Way the River Has last spring. So we are so thrilled that we now get to talk about Brian Doyle's first novel, published by one of our favorite publishers, local-ish Oregon State University Press. And we are especially thrilled to be helping Brian launch his new book tomorrow night at The Mercy Corps Headquarters in downtown Portland.

Mink River, Brian's stunning fiction debut, brings a small coastal Oregon town to life through the jumbled lives and braided stories of its people. In the wet hamlet of Neawanaka there are love affairs and almost-love-affairs, mystery and hilarity, bears and tears, brawls and boats, a garralous logger and a silent doctor, rain and pain, Irish immigrants and Salish stories, mud and laughter. 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.

David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and The River Why, said of Mink River "In its sights, setting, 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....I've read no Northwest novel remotely like it and enjoyed few novels more."

In her review of the book for Shelf Awareness, Valerie Ryan, owner of The Cannon Beach Book Company, wrote this about Mink River: "Brian Doyle loves words; big words, small words, fancy words, plain words, exotic words, domesticated words, adjectives, verbs and nouns especially, and because he loves words he piles them up in great juicy heaps of phrases and paragraphs and sentences and pages and whole books and makes delicious stories with them, stories about impossibly possible events and a talking crow who loves football and cares for a nun in her last days, bringing her bits of fish, dusting her room with his wings and getting drunk on wine with her, and people with unusual names, and then he tells us why they have those names because he is a first-rate storyteller who has a story to tell in this book but also digresses into disquisitions on the bicycle and Puccini and Irish lore galore and frequent quotes from Ecclesiastes and William Blake, another writer who burns 'always with this hard, gemlike flame,' and occasionally interspersed with bursts of Italian or Latin or Gaelic, and all of this with the wonder of a child, the soul of a poet, the compassion of a saint, the pen of an angel, the imagination of an inventor and the wisdom of a sage."

Joseph Bednarik reviewed the book for The Oregonian: "Mink River, the shimmering new novel by Portland writer Brian Doyle, is the best way to get to Neawanaka. Actually, it's the only way -- and very much worth the trip....The strength of the novel lies in Doyle's ability to convey the delicious vibrancy of people and the quirky whorls that make life a complex tapestry. He is absolutely enchanted by stories, with the zeal and talent to enchant others."

Brian is the author of ten previous books, including The Grail, Thirsty for the Joy, and Epiphanies & Elegies. His essays have been reprinted in the annual Best American Essays, Best American Science & Nature Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies. He edits Portland Magazine at the University of Portland.

We hope you can join us Tuesday night at 7 pm for what is sure to be an inspirational and entertaining event, full of laughter, delicious words, and wonderful storytelling. Mercy Corps is at 45 SW Ankeny, at the corner of 1st and Ankeny near the Burnside Bridge (and at the Skidmore Fountain MAX stop).

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