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Authors: Brian Doyle

Mink River: A Novel

BOOK: Mink River: A Novel
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Table of Contents



Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5


Praise for
Mink River


Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction,
Foreword Reviews
’ Book of the Year Awards

Top Ten Northwest Book
“Award-winning essayist 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. Readers who appreciate modern classics like Sherwood Anderson’s
Winesburg, Ohio
or William Faulkner’s
As I Lay Dying
will find much to savor here. Enthusiastically recommended.”

Library Journal
(starred review)
“[An] original, postmodern, shimmering tapestry of smalltown life ...”

Publishers Weekly
“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 ... 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.”

The Oregonian
“Doyle’s language is rich, lush, equal to the verdant landscape he describes, and his narrative ricochets with a wondrous blending of the real and magical from character to character as he tracks the intersecting lives of Neawanaka oe summer.”
—Greg Sarris,
San Francisco Chronicle
“Doyle explores the inner workings of a community and delivers a timeless story of survival, transcendence, and good cheer.”
—Tim McNulty,
The Seattle Times
“This is a story to get lost in, as stories upon stories unfold in this tiny town on the Oregon coast.
Mink River
is flat-out fabulous.”
—Sheryl Cotleur, Book Passage, Corte Madera, California

Also by Brian Doyle

Grace Notes
Spirited Men
Saints Passionate & Peculiar
Two Voices
(with Jim Doyle)


The Grail: A year ambling & shambling through an Oregon
vineyard in pursuit of the best pinot noir wine in the whole wild world
The Wet Engine: Exploring the mad wild miracle of the heart


Thirsty for the Joy: Australian & American Voices
Epiphanies & Elegies


Bin Laden’s Bald Spot & Other Stories

Mink River
a novel




Brian Doyle








Oregon State University Press


Map and spot drawings by Mary Miller Doyle


The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources and the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials Z39.48-1984.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Doyle, Brian, 1956 Nov. 6-

Mink river : a novel / by Brian Doyle.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-0-87071-585-3 (alk. paper)

1. City and town life--Oregon--Fiction. 2. Oregon--Fiction. I. Title.

PS3604.O9547M56 2010



© 2010 Brian Doyle

All rights reserved.
First published in 2010 by Oregon State University Press

Fourth printing 2011

Printed in the United States of America

Oregon State University Press

121 The Valley Library

Corvallis OR 97331-4501

541-737-3166 • fax 541-737-3170

For Mary

The only music I can compose is that of little things.
—Giacomo Puccini
The past has not passed away but is eternally preserved somewhere or other and continues to be real and really influential … everybody and everything is so closely interwoven that separation is only approximate …
—Pavel Florensky
Animals, as they pass through the landscape, leave their tracks behind. Stories are the tracks we leave.
—Salman Rushdie







A town not big not small.

In the hills in Oregon on the coast.

Bounded by four waters: one muscular river, two shy little creeks, one ocean.

End of May—the first salmonberries are

Not an especially stunning town, stunningtownwise—there are no ancient stone houses perched at impossible angles over eye-popping vistas with little old ladies in black shawls selling goat cheese in the piazza while you hear Puccini faintly in the background sung by a stunning raven-haired teenage girl who doesn’t yet know the power and poetry of her voice not to mention her everything else.

No houses crying out to be the cover of a magazine that no one actually reads anyway and the magazine ends up in the bathroom and then is cut to ribbons for a fourth-grade collage project that uses a jar of rubber cement that was in the drawer by the back stairs by the old shoebox and the jar of rubber cement is so old that you wonder secretly if it fermented or a mouse died in it or

No buildings on the National Resister of Hysterical Places, though there are some old houses, the oldest of which finally collapses on page 141;
cheating ahead to watch it slump like ice cream at noon, please.

But there are some odd sweet corners here, and friendly houses and sheds and barns and a school and churches and shops, and certain rhythmic angles in the town where a road and a building and a line of trees intersect to make a sort of symmetrical geometric architectural textual physical music in the right light—the kind of juxtaposition of things that painters like to paint for inchoate inarticulate unconscious reasons they can’t explain.

And the light itself—well, there’s a certain
of light here, the way it shafts itself through and around things confidently, exuberantly, densely, substantively; it has something to do with the nearby ocean, maybe. Or the rain, which falls eight months a year. Or the sheer jungle energy of trees and plants here, where the flora release so many feminine ions that the light fractures into geometric patterns that are organized along magnetic lines coherent with the tides and sometimes visible to the naked eye.

Really and truly.

And some buildings here have a moist salty dignity even as they grow beards of stringy pale moss green as seasick old men; and long relaxed streets that arrive eventually where they are headed but don’t get all fascist and linear and anal like highways do; and unusual fauna right
the town sometimes, like the young elk who ate a whole box of frozen hot dogs at a school picnic once, or the black bear who wandered through the recycling shed at the Department of Public Works and tore apart a pile of newspapers and was discovered reading the
New York Times
travel section, turning the pages daintily with her claws as big and sharp as steak knives.

Right now, for example, look up, right over there, see the eagle flying low and fast down Curlew Street? Watch: as he sails over the grocery store he whirls and
a whirling piece of cardboard, and he flapflopflaps down the street triumphantly, big as a tent, you can almost hear him thinking
I am one bad-ass flying machine, this weird flat brown bird didn’t get away from
, no sir, nothing can elude my lightning deftness in the air

BOOK: Mink River: A Novel
4.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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