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Bin Laden's Bald Spot: & Other Stories

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  67 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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 th

Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Red Hen Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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This is a writer who will grab your attention and not let go. I usually read short story collections in stages because it's like eating rich food -- too much and you get sick of it.

This collection just moved easily from one piece to the next and I enjoyed almost all of them. The characters are well-drawn without the feeling of "oh, he's drawing the character here". Boyle's characters are stupid and courageous and lost and wise. He moves in wickedly funny and moving ways to illustrate what it is
Kat Masek
This collection of stories gives a wide range of Brian Doyle's moods and abilities. I adore him, so for me it was a must-read: I scrape the available print and digital media for any sign of things he's read to fill the spaces between his major publications. There is hilarity is this collection, and heartbreak, just as there is in any of his works, so I recommend it to any Brian Doyle fan, which in my opinion should be everyone. There's something else I have to say, because I haven't come over to ...more
Jan 18, 2012 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Folks just swappin' yarns on the porch
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work, and an amazing author appearance
Bin Laden's Bald Spot is full of losers, starting with the title character, whom Brian Doyle presciently describes as "a creature of the dark, a thing that squirms and quails and dies when pierced by the brilliant snarl of the sun." Most of Doyle's losers, though, are more easy-going than the bygone bearded bastard. Take Pete, for example, the narrative target of "Do You Think We Should Pull Over?" (the answer to that question, by the way, is "yes, Pete. Yes, we should."). Despite Pete's woefull ...more
The title of the book should be "You Know What I'm Saying?" because that line appears over and over, for some reason. Some of the stories are 5-star worthy, including King of the Losers, AAA Plus, Hurtgen, Mule, The Fox, and The Man Who Wanted to Live in the Library.
I found these stories totally refreshing. They were at times hilarious, at times sad. The subjects were so varied that I was always pleasantly surprised when I started a new story. The author is clever, irreverent, outrageous. For devoted readers I recommend the story "The Man Who Wanted to Live in a Library." What a hoot. It carries to an extreme the personalities of all of us who haunt our local libraries and monopolize the time of our friendly librarians as we always want to shoot the breeze ...more
I'm not normally a fan of short story collections -- in fact, I hate them -- they're too insignificant, too shallow, too constrained. Yet, it seems that anything Brian Doyle writes is instantly able to hook me. Here you have the quirkiest collection of characters that have ever been cobbled together (Bin Laden's barber, anyone?). Doyle managed to circumvent my entrenched bias and made me a believer in the absolute perfection of a short story written well. If you haven't read him, do yourself a f ...more
John Orman
This collection of very short stories is odd and quirky, but in a good, entertaining way.

I especially liked the story "The Man Who Wanted to Live in the Library."
A man is so obsessed with libraries and their books, he not only wants to spend all his time there, but even wants his cremains to be distributed in several libraries!

The "Bin Laden's Bald Spot" story is told from the perspective of the terrorist's barber, who should know! Oh, yes, there is also a crewcut under that turban.
Jonathan Hiskes
Spectacular, hilarious brief fiction. Doyle grants himself license to imagine anyone's life, including bin Laden's barber, and pulls it off. My favorites are King of the Losers, AAA Plus, The Boyfriends Bus, Waking the Bishop, Chino's Story, and A Confession, from which this: "You're not with me, here, Jack. I made a promise. You make a promise, you stick with it. Not because you promise someone else but because if you don't keep your promises there's no real you."
An exceptional narrative voice, and one of those writers whose work I feel committed to read in its entirety. "The Man Who Wanted to Live in the Library" and the Confession and the story at the end about the priests--all of these are stories that will stick around, banging around consciousness I think for some time to come.

I can't imagine why I didn't discover him a long time ago, but if it's a good thing, it's never too early and never too late.
Brittany Wilmes
Brian Doyle's sweet, galloping stories are told in the effortless rambling manner he so artfully embraces in all genres of his writing. I appreciated the unique perspectives and insights, but I spent the first several stories reminding myself that his narrators were characters, not himself. This collection of short stories is a quirky look at life through broken and blessed eyes.
Probably more like a 3.5, but mostly just because I don't think I really like short stories very much rather than to the execution of these particular stories. These were good, quirky stories, and you actually got a good feel for the characters even in just a few pages, which is a gift when it comes to short stories.
There is something really appealing about these stories. They're kind of weird! Each story seems impossibly short, and somehow within their 3-4 pages the characters' personalities come through. The stories are chatty, often rambling and a lot of fun.
I'm not sure what to say about these stories. I think I read them like listening to a new album from a favorite band; expectations getting in the way of really hearing it. I'll read them again and then tell you what I think.
Bin Laden’s Bald Spot & Other Stories is an evolution in prose and somewhere, someone has gone and blessed Brian Doyle, if only for being one of the few writers who truly understands fiction.
Lauren Moore
Sweet, strange stories told casually, colloquially.

I think I have a crush on Brian Doyle, or at least on all of his narrators.
Marty Wolk
I am loving these short short stories, tightly packed with action. The intensity of TC Boyle, with the economy of words of Raymond Carver.
Valley Cottage Library
Quirky and refreshingly sweet short stories told by lovable narrators. Seriously, you will love these guys.
Mary Dansak
I love Brian Doyle. More delightful stories.
May 08, 2012 Lori marked it as to-read
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Doyle's essays and poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The American Scholar, Orion, Commonweal, and The Georgia Review, among other magazines and journals, and in The Times of London, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Kansas City Star, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Ottawa Citizen, and Newsday, among other newspapers. He is a book reviewer for The Oregonian and a contributing ess ...more
More about Brian Doyle...
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