In Memoriam: Brian Doyle

and so many more stories, all changing by the minute, all swirling and braiding and weaving and spinning and stitching themselves one to another and to the stories of creatures in that place, both the quick sharp-eyed ones and the rooted green ones and the ones underground and the ones too small to see, and to the stories that used to be here, and still are here in ways that you can sense sometimes if you listen with your belly, and the first green shoots of stories that will be told in years to come – so many stories braided and woven and interstitched and leading one to another like spider strands or synapses or creeks that you could listen patiently for a hundred years and never hardly catch more than shards and shreds of the incalculable ocean on stories just in this one town, not big, not small, bounded by four waters, in the hills, by the coast, end of May, first salmonberries just ripe. But you sure can try to catch a few, yes? – Mink River

I realized last week that I haven’t actually read any works written only by white men this month. I was going to leave this be, and ask for recommendations of must read books by white men for June, but then I got a message from my mother letting me know that one of my favorite authors Brian Doyle, who also happens to be a white man, had passed away from a  brain tumor on Saturday, May 27th.


Brian Doyle wrote the book Mink River among others, and his writing and ability to both tell stories and describe the storytelling process has been life changing. The quote above comes from the beginning of Mink River, and I have used it or brought it to people multiple times. There is something in it that speaks to me on a profound level, something about the ability of a short paragraph to capture the intricacies and subtleties of what a place is, and how it is created, invented almost, through the interactions connections created between not just its human inhabitants, but the plants and animals who live there as well.

In to his novels, Brian also wrote many essays for magazines like The Atlantic, and Orion, and spoke so honestly and candidly about the importance of story in our lives, which anyone who read my post earlier this week about the power of story will know is one of my own personal passions. Some of his words on the subject are what inspired parts of my own work, and for that, as well as the comfort and beauty of his works, the impact that have had on me, my family, and my communities, and all the stories that he, hin his own words above “caught”, I am forever grateful.

I honestly don’t know what else to say, but I plan on rereading Mink River, and then reading The Plover, or even Martin Marten as well this month in honor of him. Brian Doyle’s writing captured something I rarely see in the books I read, and it makes me sad to think that he is no longer here with us.



2 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Brian Doyle

  1. and as you can imagine, reading this brings a tear to my eye….you did a beautiful job of capturing what Brian’s writing can mean. LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!! Beautiful blog!!


  2. Emma, thank you for your moving paian for Brian. I hadn’t heard of his passing until your blog post, and it was a respectful and gentle way to learn of the passing of an author who has given us so much. May we continue to learn from his unique work.


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