Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle edits Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He is the author of over one dozen books, including 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 and The Plover. He is also the editor of several anthologies, including Ho`olaule`a, a collection of writing about the Pacific islands.

Doyle's new novel is Chicago.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
The usual motley slew – just read the excellent Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby, a very good memoir of his experiences as a prisoner and escapee in WW2 Italy. But the great burst lately has been the terrific Richard Hannay adventure novels of John Buchan. He’s most famous for The 39 Steps, probably because it was made into a fine Hitchcock movie, but that good book is one of five in which he uses the same coterie of characters in spy and espionage and tension stories of rescue and derring-do, set in England and Scotland. Greenmantle, Mister Standfast, The Three Hostages, The Island of Sheep are the others; all of which I really enjoyed for their dash and pace, and for their deep soaking in landscape and time and class and language; Buchan was gifted at atmosphere especially, and I am endlessly curious, as a novelist, how someone better at it does the trick. He is able to push a story along with action and character sketches both, and at the same time soak me in Scottish forests and hills to the point where I can hear curlews and the faint song of the sea beyond the next ridge. He does wander on here and there, and I am sure there are readers who dislike the adventure novel as a form (there must be readers who dislike masterpieces like Stevenson’s Kidnapped or Haggard’s Allen Quartermain novels, though I cannot understand such dislike), but I was thrilled to read them. Then I made the mistake of going one step too far, into a Buchan set in an imaginary country; and there he lost me and himself, for he could not evoke it as he did the actual places he loved. I had to stop, sadly, after 40 pages, and wish him well, and move on.
Read more about Chicago at the publisher's website.

My Book, The Movie: Bin Laden’s Bald Spot.

The Page 69 Test: Mink River.

My Book, The Movie: The Plover.

The Page 69 Test: Chicago.

--Marshal Zeringue