Letters and Comments on My Writing

A selection

By Brian Doyle | May 29, 2015
Richard Matthews/Flickr
Richard Matthews/Flickr


Why do you abuse punctuation so? What has punctuation ever done to you? Where were you educated, if you were educated? Did you not study grammar? Breaking all the rules of syntax, apparently deliberately, does not constitute art. The fur-trapper in your novel is an evil man and a liar and you should be ashamed of yourself. Why are there no dogs in your novel? Do you have something against dogs? How can a man write an entire novel about a town and not mention a single dog? In several of your essays you say that cats are the brooding spawn of Satan. Why do you say such things? Are you trying to be funny? I will assume that you are trying to be humorous, but it certainly is not amusing to us in the cat community. In your book about a vineyard you refer constantly to your lovely research assistant. I just discovered from the Web that you are married, and have been married for many years. Does your wife know about your research assistant? In your book about a vineyard you veer off every other chapter into whatever seems to be in your head at that time. Why did your publisher let that happen? Our book club read this book, and we got into such an argument about it being inane or brilliant that the book club was dissolved and now I have to find a new book club, for which I blame the author. In your novel about seafaring there is a mistake on page 211. In your novel about a pine marten there is a mistake on page 208. In your novel about the Oregon coast there may be a mistake on page one, second paragraph, but your writing style is so weird that it may not be a mistake. I find your ostensibly “spiritual” essays to be nothing more than religious claptrap deviously designed to sell the scurrilous agenda of the Papist Church. Your nominally “spiritual” essays should bear a large warning sticker on the cover warning sensible and reasonable readers to stay away. I have now read all three of the books that you claim are “poetry,” but not one of them is anything near as good as Mary Oliver ever wrote. (To that reader I wrote back, agreeing with her wholeheartedly.) Why do you not use quotation marks in your novels? Our book club just read your novel, and one of our members pointed out that there are no adverbs in the entire book. Did you do that on purpose or was that an accident? I have to write a paper about your writing, and when I go to Wikipedia it says you were born in 1935 and 1956. How is that possible? Is that because you are Canadian? Our class is studying your essay about hummingbirds, and we do not understand the ending. Do you? Our class read your book about hearts, and when our teacher asked, What was he thinking? we were all thinking exactly that. Our book club had to read your novel for our April meeting, and my question to you is this: Who were you trying to ape and copy, James Joyce or Jorge Luis Borges? Please respond to this question: I have $10 riding on Borges.

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