- About the Book
Like Dylan Thomas' 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. In a small fictional town on the Oregon coast there are love affairs and almost-love-affairs, mystery and hilarity, bears and tears, brawls and boats, a garrulous logger and a silent doctor, rain and pain, Irish immigrants and Salish stories, mud and laughter. There's a Department of Public Works that gives haircuts and counts insects, a policeman addicted to Puccini, a philosophizing crow, beer and berries. An expedition is mounted, a crime committed, and there's an unbelievably huge picnic on the football field. Babies are born. A car is cut in half with a saw. A river confesses what it's thinking. . . It's the tale of a town, written in a distinct and lyrical voice, and readers will close the book more than a little sad to leave the village of Neawanaka, on the wet coast of Oregon, beneath the hills that used to boast the biggest trees in the history of the world.
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 one summer.... The success of any richly imagined narrative depends on its ability to sustain a reader's interest in the overall story, to garner a reader's empathy for its characters - and what a challenge Doyle has set for himself, to keep our interest with a cast of characters nearly unfathomable. He succeeds.
—San Francisco Chronicle
—San Francisco Chronicle
Doyle, author of the nonfiction books "The Grail" and "The Wet Engine," believes in the power of stories and their ability to teach us how to live. This is evident throughout "Mink River," where Native American stories (wonderfully imagined) interweave with old Irish narratives as descendants of both cultures look to the past to make some sense of the present.... Doyle explores the inner workings of a community and delivers a timeless story of survival, transcendence and good cheer.
Doyle's storytelling style is one a reader needs to accept, trust and ride -- he has a penchant for quick takes, long sentences, short chapters and an interjecting narrator.... 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.