Authors: Brian Doyle
Table of Contents
Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction,
’ 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
or William Faulkner’s
As I Lay Dying
will find much to savor here. Enthusiastically recommended.”
“[An] original, postmodern, shimmering tapestry of smalltown life ...”
“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
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.”
“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.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Doyle explores the inner workings of a community and delivers a timeless story of survival, transcendence, and good cheer.”
The Seattle Times
“This is a story to get lost in, as stories upon stories unfold in this tiny town on the Oregon coast.
is flat-out fabulous.”
—Sheryl Cotleur, Book Passage, Corte Madera, California
Also by Brian Doyle
Saints Passionate & Peculiar
(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
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.
ISBN 978-0-87071-585-3 (alk. paper)
1. City and town life--Oregon--Fiction. 2. Oregon--Fiction. I. Title.
© 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
The only music I can compose is that of little things.
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 …
Animals, as they pass through the landscape, leave their tracks behind. Stories are the tracks we leave.
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