Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon ‘the best university magazine in America, according to Newsweek, and ‘the best spiritual magazine in the country,’ according to Annie Dillard.
Doyle is the author of ten previous books: five collections of essays, two nonfiction books (The Grail, about a year in an Oregon vineyard, and The Wet Engine, about the ‘muddles & musics of the heart’), two collections of short prose, and the sprawling novel Mink River, which Publisher’s Weekly called a ‘original, postmodern, shimmering tapestry of smalltown life.’ His works published with Red Hen Press include The Mighty Currawongs (2016) and Bin Laden’s Bald Spot and Other Stories (2011).
Doyle is a four-time finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and his essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion, The American Scholar, and in newspapers and magazines around the world. His essays have also been reprinted in the annual Best American Essays, Best American Science & Nature Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies. Among various honors for his work are a Catholic Book Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and a 2008 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
He once made the all-star team in a Boston men’s basketball league, and that was a really tough league. He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife and children.
The Mighty Currawongs
Publication Date: September 26, 2016
A collection of headlong tales by Oregon author Brian Doyle–exploring such riveting and peculiar topics as chess in the Levant, tailors who specialize in holes, how to report stigmata to your attending physician, the intense hilarity of basketball, how to have a bitter verbal marital fight in your car, an all-Chinese football team in Australia, soccer and Catholicism, what it’s like to be in a ska band, a singing Korean baker, an archbishop who loses his faith between the salad and the entrée, genius Girl Scouts who save a radio station, and a baby born from a lake in Illinois. And some other fascinating stories. Really. Trust us.
“With headlong good humor, Brian Doyle–one of America’s finest novelists and catchers of brief true stories–now sings short stories in which a cast of oddball searchers and appealing lost souls challenges tradition and skewers pomposity at every turn, from the concrete courts of pick-up basketball to within the Catholic Church that Doyle so clearly loves. And that’s only what the book is about . . . Its overarching appeal rises from the richly imagined and beautifully scaped trail of words. Brian Doyle here is a big-hearted, sharp-eyed, penetrating storyteller at the very top of his game.”—Robin Cody, winner of the Oregon Book Award for Voyage of a Summer Sun
“There’s an easy mannered sorcery that will remain unnamed in these humans-of-interest stories. Though they take great care and steadily arc they also readily course through one’s consciousness and rouse–whether they’re taking tracing paper to some tightly guarded secret or simply scoring some seemingly simple act. And if you’re still refraining from picking up a ticket, get this—“The Detours” covers a ska band’s basking in the spotlight over at Club Casino. It’s practically madness.”—Mark DeCarteret of Water Street Books
Bin Laden’s Bald Spot and Other Stories
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
Welcome to the peculiar and headlong world of Brian Doyle’s fiction, where the odd is happening all the time, reported upon by characters of every sort and stripe. Swirling voices and skeins of story, laughter and rage, ferocious attention to detail and sweeping nuttiness, tears and chortling – these stories will remind readers of the late giant David Foster Wallace, in their straightforward accounts of anything-but-straightforward events; of modern short story pioneer Raymond Carver, a bit, in their blunt, unadorned dialogue; and of Julia Whitty, a bit, in their willingness to believe what is happening, even if it absolutely shouldn’t be.
Funny, piercing, unique, memorable, this is a collection of stories readers will find nearly impossible to forget. Along the way, readers will meet:
… The barber who shaves the heads of the thugs in Bin Laden’s cave tells cheerful stories of life with the preening video-obsessed leader, who has a bald spot shaped just like Iceland.
… A husband gathers all of his wife’s previous boyfriends for a long day on a winery-touring bus.
… A teenage boy drives off into the sunset with his troubled sister’s small daughters . . . and the loser husband locked in the trunk of the car.
… The late Joseph Kennedy pours out his heart to a golf-course bartender moments before the stroke that silenced him forever.
… A man digging in his garden finds a brand-new baby boy, still alive, and has a chat with the teenage neighbor girl whose son it is.
… A man born on a Greyhound bus eventually buys the entire Greyhound Bus Company and revolutionizes Western civilization.
… A mountainous bishop dies and the counting of the various keys to his house turns . . . tense.
… A man discovers his wife having an affair, takes up running to grapple with his emotions, and discovers everyone else on the road is a cuckold too.
From “Bin Laden’s Bald Spot”
Only two men in this sweet bruised world know that Osama bin Laden, son of Alia Ghanem and Muhammad bin Laden, has under his turban a sprightly crewcut modeled on Van Johnson in the 1954 movie The Last Time I Saw Paris, which, as only a few other men know, is his favorite movie, or used to be before he had to give up electronics for various excellent reasons. I have also heard him say, more than once, as I cut his hair, that The Caine Mutiny with Van Johnson is his favorite movie, so I think we may conclude safely that his favorite movie is one in which Van Johnson is a featured player, although it may be that Osama, all due respect to the Vanster, has a thing for crewcuts rather than cinema.
Also I am here to tell you that Osama has a bald spot the size of a baby’s fist on the back of his head, shaped exactly like Iceland, complete with the Vestfjarda Peninsula to the west. He does not like to speak of this and indeed we have only spoken of it once, when I said to him, sir, you have a bald spot back here shaped like Iceland, and he said I do not, and I said, yes sir, you do, it is the size of my fist and even has the little peninsula to the west, you know, like Iceland does, and he said I do not have a bald spot, and I said, yes sir, well sir, actually yes you do, sir, it’s a big honking thing, too, and I remember learning the names of the towns in Iceland for extra credit when I was in school, many years ago, Borgarfjardharsysla and Eyjafjardharsysla and Hafnarfjordhur and Isafjordhur and of course Snaefellsnessysla-og-Hnappadalssysla, is that a cool name or what, who could forget such a name, and the fact is that your bald spot is really amazingly like Iceland complete with the Vestfjarda Peninsula to the west, so maybe we should be discussing a hair weave? Sir?