CORVALLIS, Ore. - Portland author Brian Doyle has earned a reputation for his descriptive essays on nature, his colorful observations of people, and his forays into topics readers just seem to care about - like his recent book on the pursuit of the best pinot noir in the world ("The Grail").
Now Doyle is taking on a new genre and his first novel, "Mink River," is due in book stores and libraries this October from the Oregon State University Press. The book also represents the OSU Press's initial venture into publishing original fiction.
"Mink River" is set in the fictional Oregon coastal town of Neawanaka, and Doyle weaves together the stories of dozens of characters, including a 12-year-old boy who incurs a horrific bicycle accident and is rescued by a bear; the boy's grandfather, Worried Man, who embarks on a dangerous mission to track down the source of time; a philosophizing crow that speaks English; and a policeman who is addicted to opera.
Doyle's background in nature writing and humor fuses in "Mink River" with a touch of the fantastical in his descriptions of these and other characters, creating the unique culture of Neawanaka.
This potpourri of styles and characters is the essence of "Mink River." Writes Doyle:
"Daniel on his bike thinks of his family. He rushes downhill through the onrushing night. We're so weird. My dad is Irish and my mom is one of the People, which makes me an Irish-People-American. My dad works with a talking crow. My mom says that she finds out what wood and stone want to be when they grow up."
Molly Gloss, author of "The Hearts of Horses," praised Doyle's first novel as "absolutely in the tradition of Northwest literature, richly imagined, distinctive, beautiful."
Library Journal magazine was equally enthusiastic in its starred review, which suggested that lovers of "classics like Sherwood Anderson's 'Winesburg, Ohio,' or William Faulkner's 'As I Lay Dying' will find much to savor here."
Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland. He is the author of 10 books, including "The Grail," with its lengthy but descriptive subtitle, "A year rambling & shambling through an Oregon vineyard in pursuit of the best pinot noir wine in the whole wild world." (OSU Press, 2006) His essays have been published in Best American Essays and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies.
Copies of "Mink River" may be ordered online at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/press/m-n/Mink.html, or by calling 1-800-426-3797.
The Oregon State University Press, founded in 1961, publishes significant scholarly books and other works and has a focus on the intellectual, cultural and social development of Oregon and the West.
More information on the press is available at: http://oregonstate.edu/dept/press/about.html
Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.
Tom Booth, 503-796-0547