- About the Book
Dave is fourteen years old, eager, and headlong. He is about to start high school, which is scary and alluring. Martin is a pine marten, a small, muscled hunter of the deep woods. He is about to leave home for the first time, which is scary and thrilling. Both of these wild animals are setting off on adventures on their native Mount Hood in Oregon, and their lives, paths, and trails will cross, weave, and blend. Why not come with them as they set forth into the forest and crags of the mountain and into the bruising wilderness of love, life, family, friends, enemies, wonder, mystery, and good things to eat?Martin Marten is a braided coming-of-age tale like no other, told in Brian Doyles joyous, rollicking style. Two energetic, sinewy, muddled, brilliant, creative animals, one human and one mustelid---come sprint with them through the deep, wet, green glory of Oregons soaring mountain.
In avuncular, down-to-earth prose, and with frequent pauses to directly address the reader, Mr. Doyle follows the parallel lives of these characters.... The novel, which spans about two years, doesn't have any real plot; instead it's organized around the life-cycle milestones shared by human and nonhuman animals alike � births and deaths, maturation and decline, union and loss. These common bonds are at the root of the subtle and affecting relationship Dave and Martin form.
—Wall Street Journal
—Wall Street Journal
I was charmed by this book, and very moved at times, but in the end it felt like a series of sweet essays. Doyle is an immensely clever writer and has no qualms whatsoever about interrupting the narrative to call attention to it.... Coupled with the numerous digressions, these habits pulled me away from the story, regardless of how much I enjoyed them. Still, there is much to savor in this extraordinary celebration of a unique place.
Pine martens are small, lithe hunters of the weasel clan, and Doyle brings an informed sense of natural history and ecology to Martin's part of the story. We follow Martin through denning, rearing, learning to hunt, territorial scraps; it is a remarkable departure in a contemporary novel. Doyle is on less-firm ground when he explores Martin's feelings and motivations, or the marten's unlikely attraction to Dave.... Doyle works hard to evoke an ideal rural community, where humans and animals interact with respect and mutual regard. But his philosophical musings take up far too many pages here.... Some of Doyle's best moments explore his character's stumbling personal encounters.... Life in the Northwest woods may be fanciful in Martin Marten, but the characters emerge true as rain.