Epiphanies

Storycatcher

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A taste of things to come …

By Brian Doyle


 

Hey—Brian Doyle here. Not the great gentlemanly Canadian novelist Brian Doyle, whose books people bring me to sign at my readings. Or the Brian Doyle who played in the World Series for the evil satanic New York Yankees and hit .438, replacing the injured Willie Randolph at second. Or the Brian Doyle who wrote a book about opera houses in Wisconsin, or the one who wrote a play about komodo dragons, or the noted Australian comedian, or … well, you get the picture.

This Brian Doyle, whom I have known for 50 years, is addled by stories, and that’s what he would like to write about in this space. That’s it. He thinks stories are wild and holy and necessary and crucial and hilarious and heartbreaking and the food of our souls and our national idea. He thinks all stories with humor and substance are steps toward a world of peace and joy and all stories with greed and lies in them are slimy retreats. He’s riveted by the way people tell and speak and sing their stories, and he thinks that often the very best pieces of writing are the ones where the writer leaps out of the way of a story as it passes from teller to listener. He’s absorbed by children and other small wild animals. He detests writerly preening and pretension and arrogance, especially in religious matters, and thinks that one of the greatest thing about being an American writer is that you can say with high glee that you are walking in the footsteps of Mark Twain, the greatest puncturer of the fatuous and pompous ever hatched from our soil.

This Brian Doyle only has one skill. (Believe me, my brothers have made this clear over the years.) He’s a storycatcher. There are uncountable stories swirling in and around us, and I’d like to catch a few and share them, and that will be good. At the least we will laugh; at best we will shiver and be moved; and in between perhaps we will learn some excellent small things, like how damselflies are engineered and how to sail a felucca. This Brian Doyle is a gaping awed student of epiphanies of every sort and shape and stripe, and that’s what I’d like to burble on about every week for a while, so come back in the coming weeks, when maybe we will wonder at the amazing fact that there are gay albatrosses. I kid you not.

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland, and the author most recently of the novel The Plover. He writes the weekly Epiphanies column at theamericanscholar.org.

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