One Long River of Song

Notes on Wonder


By Brian Doyle

Introduction by David James Duncan

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From a "born storyteller" (Seattle Times), this playful and moving bestselling book of essays invites us into the miraculous and transcendent moments of everyday life.

When Brian Doyle passed away at the age of sixty after a bout with brain cancer, he left behind a cult-like following of devoted readers who regard his writing as one of the best-kept secrets of the twenty-first century. Doyle writes with a delightful sense of wonder about the sanctity of everyday things, and about love and connection in all their forms: spiritual love, brotherly love, romantic love, and even the love of a nine-foot sturgeon.

At a moment when the world can sometimes feel darker than ever, Doyle's writing, which constantly evokes the humor and even bliss that life affords, is a balm. His essays manage to find, again and again, exquisite beauty in the quotidian, whether it's the awe of a child the first time she hears a river, or a husband's whiskers that a grieving widow misses seeing in her sink every morning. Through Doyle's eyes, nothing is dull.

David James Duncan sums up Doyle's sensibilities best in his introduction to the collection: "Brian Doyle lived the pleasure of bearing daily witness to quiet glories hidden in people, places and creatures of little or no size, renown, or commercial value, and he brought inimitably playful or soaring or aching or heartfelt language to his tellings." A life's work, One Long River of Song invites readers to experience joy and wonder in ordinary moments that become, under Doyle's rapturous and exuberant gaze, extraordinary.


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“A Mystical Project Born
of Joy and Desperation”

My great friend Brian Doyle—“BD” to me for a quarter century, so pardon my addiction to calling him that still—was always an unusually fast and proficient writer. But from the 2010 publication of his first novel, Mink River, until his fatal brain-tumor diagnosis late in 2016, he caught fire. During that period he published two collections of short stories, four collections of the prose/poem hybrids he dubbed “proems,” seven collections of the power-packed short memoirs, epiphanies, and reflections he too reductively called simply “essays,” and five more novels. Over the same span he edited Portland magazine, under BD’s tenure the most heavily awarded alumni magazine in the country as he helped resurrect, for Americans, the ancient and invaluable genre we now call “spiritual writing.” It strains my sense of the possible to add that BD was simultaneously giving public readings and talks by the dozens, writing recommendation letters, visiting grade schools, high schools, colleges, and book groups to regale what amounted to thousands of people of all ages, writing rivers of the more entertaining emails on the planet, and privately mentoring, entertaining, and consoling more people than we will ever know. Like any good man or woman dedicated to compassion in a post-fact, post-democratic corporate state, he also kept busy annoying the hell out of a few worthy enemies. I can’t resist adding that the typing portion of all these achievements was accomplished with precisely two fingers. I challenge the world’s pianists to see what they can do with the same two fingers.

Brian’s nonfiction appeared in scores of America’s finest magazines, won three Pushcart Prizes, and was regularly reprinted in every major nonfiction anthology in the country—including seven times in Best American Essays. His writing won many more honors than I have space to list here. But the responses from other writers, many of them renowned, are so remarkable I must include a few.

The great Ian Frazier said that Brian “wrote more powerfully about faith than anyone in his generation.” The peripatetic and contemplative Pico Iyer: “Almost nobody has written with the joy, the galloping energy, the quiet love of conscience and family and what’s best in us, the living optimism.” Renowned albatross savior Hob Osterlund: “He knew the strength of women without reduction, without fear or pretense, without the need to saint.” The late Mary Oliver on his essays: “They were all favorites.” (And for a Catholic writer to have his work chosen for Best American Essays by Mary Oliver and by the famous atheist Christopher Hitchens bespeaks BD’s extreme range of appeal.) “We love him,” writes philosopher and earth defender Kathleen Dean Moore: “Brian gets fan mail, sure, but also love letters.…People love his work, but more than that, they truly love him. We love him because he spreads his arms and lets us into his amazing mind and boundless heart.…The moments he shares with us sing of adoration for all the whistling, sobbing, surging creation…[and] by opening our hearts without breaking them he answers our deepest yearning for meaning. Which is joy. Which is gratitude.”

How in heaven’s name did one man win such strikingly intimate praise? I would suggest that the extreme intimacy of his nonfiction was not only delightful but highly contagious. BD saw his stories as “diving boards, not news reports.” He was interested less in “ostensible fact and nominal accuracy” than in “the bends and layers and implications and insinuations and shimmers of memory.” Within those shimmers, he said, were “the seeds of stories to which other people can connect.”

A far less subtle feature of Brian’s sentence-making: when he intuited the approaching roar of a whitewater rapid in his imagination, he paddled steady on, refusing to portage round even the wildest water. The prose that resulted made timid readers feel as though they’d been thrown into a kayak and sent careering down a literary equivalent of Idaho’s Payette River during spring runoff. But sentences that alarm the timid by awakening them to the wilder possibilities of language are heightened, not inept. BD played fast and loose with sentence length, rhythms, grammar, alliteration, and diction to disburden a heart and mind burgeoning with empathy, quickness, joy, wit, and love of “the sinuous riverine lewd amused pop and song of the American language.” Calling a foul on such phrases is like disallowing certain three-point shots of BD’s Golden State Warrior hero, Steph Curry, because they were launched so ridiculously far from the basket. If the ball goes through the hoop and if the sentence sings, both of them count, and I’m giving BD himself the last word on this matter, his ten exclamation points included:

From: Doyle, Brian
Subject: a ha!!!!!!!!!!
Date: January 2, 2015 at 11:34:43 AM MST
To: David Duncan

Have you ever paid attention to Tolstoy’s language? Enormous sentences, one clause piled on top of another. Do not think this is accidental, that it is a flaw. It is art, and it is achieved through hard work.

—Anton Chekhov

Brian Doyle lived the pleasure of bearing daily witness to quiet glories hidden in people, places, and creatures of little or no size, renown, or commercial value, and he brought inimitably playful or soaring or aching or heartfelt language to his tellings. When he finished a nonfiction gem he stacked it in his study until he had built up a modest but serviceable book manuscript, which he mailed off without fuss, usually to very small religious publishers. Many of BD’s friends, myself included, felt that by scattering his best nonfiction through thirteen modest volumes over the years, he prevented his nonfiction from winning the national repute it deserved. This, coupled with his financial fears for his family after his tumor was diagnosed, is why, shortly after his first devastating brain surgery, I asked BD’s permission to consolidate, in a single volume, the kind of nonfiction that earned the extreme praise I’ve quoted from friends, fans, and editors of magazines, with all proceeds to go to his family. Brian did not say yes. He said, “Sweet Jesus, YES!…Take whatever you want and tell whatever stories you want.”

With that blessing in hand, I set about assembling this manuscript with two magnificent co-editors: the editor-in-chief of Orion magazine, H. Emerson (Chip) Blake, and the writer Kathleen (Katie) Yale. BD’s nonfiction appeared more than any other writer’s in Orion, and Chip and I had worked together on my Orion writing for years. Katie also worked for Orion, including on many of the BD pieces, and she knew his work more widely and deeply than Chip and I did, making her the perfect guide in our efforts. To commune with our friend on this project became a joy to all three of us.


Speaking of my own friendship with Brian: when we met twenty-five years ago we each experienced, without overtly acknowledging it, a flame in each of us that we could always find burning in the other; a flame we both held to be inextinguishable. We recognized our shared willingness to speak of almost anything we perceived as spiritual truth. We also loved, during our afternoon work doldrums, to share stuff and nonsense of no redeeming social or spiritual value whatsoever. In response, for instance, to a random baseball note from me about how terrifying it must have been for batters to face the six-foot-ten-inch pitcher Randy Johnson, whose wingspan was so wide and fastball so fast he seemed to reach out and set his pitches in the catcher’s mitt by hand, BD instantly replied that Johnson towered atop a mound “like a stork on acid,” whereas Roger Clemens, since our topic was terror, “hulked on the mound, like a supersized wolverine with hemorrhoids.” I received 530 such emails and 200 snail-mail notes and missives from BD in our last two years alone, and sent back close to the same. We shot “riverine lewd amused pop and song” back and forth the way tournament table tennis players exchange shots: for the high-speed joy of it.

That joy was so important to us both that, a few weeks after BD’s death, it felt perfectly natural to sit down and write him yet another letter. In this one I recalled an exchange, via our usual email Ping-Pong, in which we marveled that the bodies of trees are built by their downward hunger for earth and water and by their upward yearning for light. How wonderful, we agreed, that these paradoxical aims, instead of tearing a tree in two or causing it to die of indecision, cause it to grow tall and strong. And just as wonderful, I wrote to my flown friend, is how “during the tree’s afterlife, its former hunger and yearning transmogrifies into the enduring structural integrity known as wood. Wood is a tree’s life history become something so solid that we can hold it in our hands. This is not just some lonely cry or mournful eulogy. Right here in the world where every living thing dies, a fallen tree’s integrity remains so literal that if a luthier adds strings to it, we can turn the departed tree’s sun-yearning and thirst-quenching into the sounds we call live music. And if a seeming lunatic smashes wood’s integrity to a pulp, then makes that pulp into paper, our ink can bring to life stories that multitudes can perform like symphonies in the sanctums of their very own depths and heights.”

It’s a great solace to me to imagine how many readers have done exactly that with Brian’s stories, and how many more will have that experience in this book.


In a tribute in Christian Century, Jonathan Hiskes quotes Brian calling his writing “the attempt to stare God in the eye.” As BD’s spiritual intimate over his last six years, I feel this touches the very heart of his aim. Brian’s work, Hiskes writes,

was a mystical project born of both joy and desperation.…The whirling adjectives, aphorisms, metaphors and paradoxes were his method of using every tool he could to excavate the rich seams of the examined life. He wanted more than to stare God in the eye. He wanted to tell God a few things, and listen too. I picture him as a songwriter-king dancing before his Lord, pouring out words, intermingling praise, grief, fury and laughter. The audacity makes me cringe. Then it draws me in.

Me too. Brian was a born cultural Catholic who cheerfully observed the rites of his inherited tradition. He also, sometimes audaciously, challenged his tradition, and he and I often whispered of our reverence for certain anything-but-orthodox humans and mystical texts. Three such for him were His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ, and the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, in which Jesus’s mysticism is so overt it’s impossible for the Church to apply it to imperialistic ends. Three such for me are the excommunicated mystical genius Meister Eckhart, the thirteenth-century Zen master Eihei Dogen, and that same Gospel of Thomas.

During his final years, BD bravely bore intimations of an early departure from this life. During the same years he experienced ever-more-frequent visitations of what I can only call epiphanic joys. In the last lines of his last book, Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace, BD summons his combined desperation and joy when he does not merely quote but lives à Kempis’s recommended imitation, making Jesus’s words in the Gospel of Thomas his own, praying to become, as a posthumous mystery, an unending prayer for his family. What greater gift can a mortal father possibly offer?

“We’re only here for a minute,” Brian once reminded us. “We’re here for a little window. And to use that time to catch and share shards of light and laughter and grace seems to me the great story.” How supreme he was at telling that story, and what a marvelous companion he was to so many. “I want to write to you like I’m speaking to you,” he said. “I would sing my books if I could.”

I say he could, and he did.

Watching Brian’s heart songs pour out, relishing his whitewater sentences, too, I witnessed a daring writer and friend embodying the sublime paradox that Dogen described in these words: “The path of water is not noticed by water, it is realized by water.…To study the way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, to forget the self is to awaken into the ten thousand things.” As much as any man or woman I’ve ever known, Brian James Patrick Doyle reveled in the act of awakening into the ten thousand things.

—DJD, Lolo, Montana, February 25, 2019


That the Small Is Huge, That the Tiny Is Vast, That Pain Is Part and Parcel of the Gift of Joy, and That This Is Love

Joyas Voladoras

Consider the hummingbird for a long moment. A hummingbird’s heart beats ten times a second. A hummingbird’s heart is the size of a pencil eraser. A hummingbird’s heart is a lot of the hummingbird. Joyas voladoras, flying jewels, the first white explorers in the Americas called them, and the white men had never seen such creatures, for hummingbirds came into the world only in the Americas, nowhere else in the universe, more than three hundred species of them whirring and zooming and nectaring in hummer time zones nine times removed from ours, their hearts hammering faster than we could clearly hear if we pressed our elephantine ears to their infinitesimal chests.

Each one visits a thousand flowers a day. They can dive at sixty miles an hour. They can fly backward. They can fly more than five hundred miles without pausing to rest. But when they rest they come close to death: on frigid nights, or when they are starving, they retreat into torpor, their metabolic rate slowing to a fifteenth of their normal sleep rate, their hearts sludging nearly to a halt, barely beating, and if they are not soon warmed, if they do not soon find that which is sweet, their hearts grow cold, and they cease to be. Consider for a moment those hummingbirds who did not open their eyes again today, this very day, in the Americas: bearded helmetcrests and booted racket-tails, violet-tailed sylphs and violet-capped woodnymphs, crimson topazes and purple-crowned fairies, red-tailed comets and amethyst woodstars, rainbow-bearded thornbills and glittering-bellied emeralds, velvet-purple coronets and golden-bellied starfrontlets, fiery-tailed awlbills and Andean hillstars, spatuletails and pufflegs, each the most amazing thing you have never seen, each thunderous wild heart the size of an infant’s fingernail, each mad heart silent, a brilliant music stilled.

Hummingbirds, like all flying birds but more so, have incredible enormous immense ferocious metabolisms. To drive those metabolisms they have race-car hearts that eat oxygen at an eye-popping rate. Their hearts are built of thinner, leaner fibers than ours. Their arteries are stiffer and more taut. They have more mitochondria in their heart muscles—anything to gulp more oxygen. Their hearts are stripped to the skin for the war against gravity and inertia, the mad search for food, the insane idea of flight. The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer more heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures than any other living creature. It’s expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine. Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise, and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old.

The biggest heart in the world is inside the blue whale. It weighs more than seven tons. It’s as big as a room. It is a small room, with four chambers. A child could walk around in it, head high, bending only to step through the valves. The valves are as big as the swinging doors in a saloon. This house of a heart drives a creature a hundred feet long. When this creature is born it is twenty feet long and weighs four tons. It is waaaaay bigger than your car. It drinks a hundred gallons of milk from its mama every day and gains two hundred pounds a day, and when it is seven or eight years old it endures an unimaginable puberty and then it essentially disappears from human ken, for next to nothing is known of the mating habits, travel patterns, diet, social life, language, social structure, diseases, spirituality, wars, stories, despairs, and arts of the blue whale. There are perhaps ten thousand blue whales in the world, living in every ocean on earth, and of the largest animal who ever lived we know nearly nothing. But we know this: the animals with the largest hearts in the world generally travel in pairs, and their penetrating moaning cries, their piercing yearning tongue, can be heard underwater for miles and miles.

Mammals and birds have hearts with four chambers. Reptiles and turtles have hearts with three chambers. Fish have hearts with two chambers. Insects and mollusks have hearts with one chamber. Worms have hearts with one chamber, although they may have as many as eleven single-chambered hearts. Unicellular bacteria have no hearts at all; but even they have fluid eternally in motion, washing from one side of the cell to the other, swirling and whirling. No living being is without interior liquid motion. We all churn inside.

So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one in the end—not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall. You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman’s second glance, a child’s apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words I have something to tell you, a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother’s papery ancient hand in the thicket of your hair, the memory of your father’s voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children.

A Shrew

One time a long time ago when I was supple and strong and rubbery
As a snake in a hurry I was on my belly in the bush and saw a shrew
In the litter of leaves and for the longest shortest moment we startled
Each other considerably but maybe the scale of our encounter was so
Ludicrously unbalanced that our normal fear of weird missed the bus,
Leaving us eye to eye under the epic ambition of a huckleberry tangle.
I remember thinking that the shrew was awfully near my two absolute
Favorite eyeballs and that shrews are said to be terrors among the tiny.
I remember that it was the size of a thumb or a thimble or a little cigar.
I remember that it had a lustrous dense shining coat as black as can be.
I remember wondering even then what it could possibly be wondering.
I remember that he or she seemed to be missing a northeast appendage.
Many questions and angles of inquiry presented themselves to me later,
Such as what combination of factors could deduct a limb from a shrew,
And what manner of beast could have executed said deletion—perhaps
A romantic tangle, a political wrangle, a religious debate turned savage
As so often has been the case? Or the usual suspects snuffling for meat.
Or maybe shrews, who do not live long in the way the world calculates,
Dissolve a leg at a time, growing ever closer to the sensuous roil of soil,
As do we all. But meanwhile there’s such a hungry immediacy, correct?
All these years later that’s what I remember from that shrewish moment,
That I stopped thinking and just stared. Yes, partly because I was scared,
But there was something beyond curiosity or the startle of astonishment.
For just an instant I paid attention with every shard and iota of my being.
Maybe we couldn’t survive if we were like that all the time, I don’t know,
But when it happens we see that which none of us can find the words for.
Sometimes we are starving to see every bit of what is right in front of us.


I am standing in the hospital watching babies emerge from my wife like a circus act. First one out is a boy, dark-haired and calm, the size of an owl. He is immediately commandeered by a nurse who whisks him off for a bath and a stint in what appears to be a tiny tanning bed. Now, says the doctor, reaching around inside my wife while he talks, here’s the other one, and he hauls out another boy. This one is light-haired and not calm; he grabs for a nurse’s scissors and won’t let go and they have to pry his fingers off and the nurse looks accusingly at me for some reason and I want to say hey, I don’t even know the guy, but I don’t say anything, being overwhelmed with new roommates and tears and astonishment at people emerging from my wife one after another like a circus act.

This boy, the second one, the burglar, turns out to have a major problem. He’s missing a chamber in his heart. You need four chambers and most people get four, but he gets only three and there’s no one to whom I can complain so they have to fix him, otherwise he dies.

Fixing him entails cutting open his chest with a saw and prying the chest bone open with a tool that looks like the Jaws of Life and chilling his heart with a bucket of ice and hooking him up to a machine that continues to pump his blood and some of mine through his brain and body while the surgeon reroutes his veins.

I ask if I can hold him in my lap during the operation, just to have my skin on his skin while he goes off to another planet while they fix him, but they say no.

Outside the hospital window I see three crows dogging a hawk. The hawk flinches when they flare by his head, he ducks and rolls and hunches his shoulders, but he doesn’t leave the tree. His troubles are inches from his face but he glares and waits, stolid, angry, churning, his thoughts sharp as razors, his brain filled with blood and meat.


The operation was really two operations, it turns out, and the doctors did the first one pretty soon after he was born, and that operation went by in a blur. Then comes a second operation when he is almost two years old, and that goes by in a blur, too, though I remember a nurse praying by his crib at four in the morning when I got up to pray by his crib.

A day after his second operation the doctors tell me I can try to feed him real food, the food he likes, which is peas.

So here I am feeding him in his hospital bed. The bed is cantilevered up at the north end so that he can eat. He is eating pea by pea. He is awake but groggy and each time a pea hovers into his viewfinder he regards it with sluggish surprise. He likes peas. I put the peas in his mouth one by one. His lips reach out a little for each pea and then maul it gently for a while before the pea disappears. Each time his lips accept the pea they also accept the ends of my thumb and forefinger for an instant. After thirteen peas he falls asleep and I crank the bed back flat and kneel down and pray like hell.

Next day the doctors say I can heft him gently out of his bed and hold him, just be careful with all the wires and tubes. There are a lot of wires and tubes. There is a heart monitor running from his chest to a machine the size of a dryer. There is a breathing tube planted in his nose. There is a blood pressure monitor attached to his big toe. There is a drainage tube running from his chest to a clear plastic box on the end of his bed. The box fills twice a day with blood and water. There is a tube in his neck, in his carotid artery. This tube runs nowhere. It’s for emergencies. It’s the tube through which the doctors would cram major drugs in case the surgical repair of his heart fails, slumps over, gives out, blows a tire, gives up the ghost, kicks the bucket, hits the wall, buys the farm.


  • "Astonishing... gorgeous... Doyle was a writer 'made of love and song and amusement.' Every living thing intrigued him and was worthy of his powerful capacity for study and his equally powerful capacity for celebration."—Margaret Renkl, New York Times
  • "Brian Doyle took on the everyday and he suffused it, every last drop of it, with a redefining soulfulness... This posthumous collection will leave you marveling and wiping away the occasional tear. Certainly you will spill ink on its pages---starring and underlining, sprinkling exclamations up and down the margins... Over and over, Doyle's musings are canticles of joy, punctuated with occasional double-shots of heartbreak and humility. It's the textured layering, the leap from shadow to light, that keeps the reader alert, and ever absorbing. Always, emphatically, there comes wisdom; it's a signature move, one you can count on. Have your pens aimed and ready. It's a gospel of the ordinary, the shoved-aside, the otherwise overlooked. And at the heart of it, that ineffable and necessary unction, a holiness you can all but hold in your palms."—Barbara Mahany, Chicago Tribune
  • "A final collection of Doyle's lyrical, sometimes mystical pieces about life and its gifts. Doyle often used his Catholicism to explore the human and natural worlds, but this is perhaps the most generous, universal 'religious writing' you'll ever read."—Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post
  • "Both ecstatic and sober...This posthumous collection dances on the edge of mortality, tossing out exaltations and questions, and offering a fresh, playful, slant on spiritual writing...a celebration of life, love, and waking each day."—Jane Ciabattari, BBC
  • "The first pleasure of reading Doyle lies in being swept away by the deft melding of his two most distinctive qualities, his sentences and his sensibility. How he loved sentences. And how he loved the world. Form and content never fit more hand in glove...I don't know a writer who more reliably or with such seeming ease plucks genuine epiphanies fresh from the ether. The ubiquity of these is testament to Doyle's craft or, perhaps, the quality of his attention...One Long River of Song demonstrates what Doyle's writing has always demonstrated, that when you find the courage to pay attention and be open to love, you can trust that 'doing your chosen work with creativity and diligence will shiver people far beyond your ken.'"—Scott F. Parker, The Oregonian
  • "A wonder-filled book... Doyle's essays often wriggle with wild miracles... Doyle's greatest gift may be the quiet wisdom that grows out of his senses of humor and humility and gratitude... Reading this collection of essays will awaken readers to the everyday wonders of saying yes."—Tom Montgomery Fate, The Christian Century
  • "Brian's glowing essays create a vision of what a good person might be, what a good life surely is, a larger story of the transformative power of joyful gratitude."—Kathleen Dean Moore, Orion Magazine
  • "One Long River of Song celebrates life in all its iterations. Remarkable for their kindness and intelligence, their humanity and humor, these essays are a thoughtful antidote for the cheap cynicism present in so much of the media we consume."—Ann Cannon, Salt Lake Tribune
  • "The essays in One Long River of Song are truly staggering--as close as stones in our palms, and as vast as the sky. Brian Doyle's voice is full of tender pivots, keen wit, and startling joy, summoning all of us to pay more passionate attention to the world."—Leslie Jamison, author of the New York Times bestsellers TheEmpathy Exams and The Recovering
  • "A posthumous collection of stunning mystical prose...Doyle's prose is so expansive and dripping with visceral detail that even the briefest vignettes are often a wondrous adventure. This brilliant compendium of spiritual musings will resonate with people of any faith--or of none."—Kirkus (starred review)
  • "A generous, posthumous collection [with] the rhythm of poems and the lyricism of songs...infused with qualities of spirit, goodness, and grace. Doyle was a wonderful stylist...he is generous, almost profligate in filling his work with [love]...readers will be equally grateful for this lovely book and its beautiful contents."—Michael Cart, Booklist (starred review)
  • "An excellent, thought-provoking collection of essays that is likely to make you run out and pick up anything else he's written."—Ray Walsh, Lansing State Journal
  • "Doyle's curiosity is insatiable and his self-described Celtic-mystic disposition spots the transcendent regularly. As much haunted by the language of James Joyce as the lessons of Jesus, Doyle sees and celebrates what happens every day in each essay of this eclectic collection. This 'best-of' should enlarge his circle of admirers."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Dazzling... Doyle's writing bursts with vivid descriptions...a renewed opportunity for more readers to discover the insight and humanity of his work...Doyle's brand of theology will appeal to fans of the work of writers like Anne Lamott...readers fortunate enough to discover the many pleasures of Brian Doyle's work here will be grateful, too, for that encounter."—Harvey Freedenberg, Shelf Awareness

On Sale
Dec 3, 2019
Page Count
272 pages

Brian Doyle

About the Author

Brian Doyle (1956-2017) was born in New York and attended the University of Notre Dame. He worked at U.S. Catholic Magazine, Boston College Magazine and, up until his death, was the editor of Portland Magazine. He wrote a number of novels and works of nonfiction, and his essays appeared in the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Orion, American Scholar, America Magazine, and many more. He won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the 2017 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing, the Oregon Book Award, three Pushcart Prizes, among others, and had multiple essays included in Best American Essays.

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