Mink Riverby Brian Doyle
Like Dylan Thomas's 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.
The prosaic and the spiritual merge in a portrait of life in a small Oregon town.
Doyle's debut novel makes heavy demands on the reader's capacity to suspend disbelief: In the Pacific Coast village of Neawanaka, a crow is an intimate confidante; a bear kindly steps in to save a human life; and the nature of time is somehow lurking in the nearby mountains.The humans who inhabit this place are earthbound folk, though, and Doyle's main point is to show how the mystical can influence otherwise ordinary lives. The novel features more than a dozen characters, though Doyle spends most of his time on just a handful: Billy and George, aging co-workers at the Department of Public Works; Owen, a repair-shop owner who consults regularly with that crow; his wife, Nora, a sculptor; and their young son, Daniel. The book is largely a series of loose, alternating portraits of each resident, and the story isn't so much plotted as designed to create opportunities for the townsfolk to come together. One thread, for instance, involves Daniel, who suffers a nasty bicycle accident that prompts the residents to bond together to save him. (Even the town doctor has a whiff of weirdness, naming the cigarettes he smokes after the apostles.) Accepting the notion that a crow can deliver the news of the accident and that a bear can be a lifesaver is surprisingly easy; Doyle firmly establishes the off-kilter nature of the town early. It's much harder, though,to be patient with the author's persistent overwriting. The logorrhea is intended to give the novel a tone that's both impressionistic and operatic, particularly in passages where Owen muses on his family's Irish spiritual heritage and Billy recalls local Native-American lore. The book might have worked as a kind of West CoastWinesburg, Ohio, suffused as it is with empathy for working-class residents and family secrets. Butas the concluding chapters feature plot turns about a spiritual mountain trek and a gun-toting assailant, the novel's initial home-and-hearth charm dissolves into hackneyed storytelling and grating, run-on sentences.
A victim of sprawling ambition, both in plot and prose.
- Oregon State University Press
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Meet the Author
David Drummond has narrated over seventy audiobooks for Tantor, in genres ranging from current political commentary to historical nonfiction, from fantasy to military, and from thrillers to humor. He has received multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards, including one for his first audiobook, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay.
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Mink River by Brian Doyle is a great read. I originally picked the book because, like Doyle, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and anything remotely related to the ocean or the area in general intrigues me. Perhaps it’s the nostalgic feelings and reminders of home that overcomes me when I think about the area where I spent so much time when I was younger, whatever the reason I just love everything and anything about it. All I knew about Mink River was that it was the story of a small town in the Northwest, other than that I was going into it blind. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked it up and I have to admit I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t connect with the story. I am happy to say that those nerves were calmed because the book was absolutely fabulous. It centers on the happenings of a small town filled with interesting people. From little Daniel and his three braids, to Worried Man and Ceder, the characters in the book are quintessential of the North West. Everything about the story settings and the stories carried with them the North West feel. Anyone who has visited the area will understand and relate to the descriptions Doyle gives. You are sure to find one character that absolutely intrigues and captivates you. Doyle does a tremendous job at interweaving this captivating stories and characters with twists and a beautiful prose style. There is something absurd yet sublime about the book and the way Doyle tells it. Reading Mink River made me remember why I love literature so much. Doyle makes language fun and exciting again. All in all, Mink River is a fantastic novel.
Stunningly beautiful! I already miss the characters. Write more, Brian.
mink river is a beautifully written story reminding the reader that every person and creature within a community has depth; purpose and spirit...this novel deserves more attention!.doyle's gift for the written word is captivating and at times powerful...i'm only disappointed about one thing....that the book came to an end. bravo brian doyle...you have a new fan!