Melody's Reviews > Mink River

Mink River by Brian  Doyle
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Dec 25, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites
Read in December, 2010

Extraordinary. I was tumbled under the wild rushing prose, tumbled and cartwheeled and somersaulted through this book full of wondrous and outrageous people, this book full of words sinuous as snakes that would out of nowhere take off and soar like very myth itself.

Doyle's foray into fiction is not that far a leap from his past nonfiction- he's such a keen observer of humanity that his fictional people (even his fictional talking, thinking crow) are more real than some of the people I actually know. His sheer delight is alive in the words and it makes each and every page shimmer.

There's something quintessentially Northwest about this book, there's the faint scent of Robbins, a sprinkle of Kesey, more than a smattering of the First Nations mythmakers, a spritz of Holbrook, a seasoning of Carver- but it's all infused with the mysterious aching Irishness of Doyle and the love he has for language and humanity and this land upon which I live. I don't mean to say it's at all derivative, because it is not. Not a bit. But it partakes deeply and fully of Place, and as such it rings echoes of those other great books that have come before.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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Reading Progress

12/23 page 112
35.0% "Doyle has the voice of the Northwest absolutely yes."
12/24 page 149
47.0% "Doyle's prose sings and tumbles and rushes and soars."
07/10 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Wow! Too intriguing to not add, so adding it.


message 2: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Mishap I'm always nervous about white writers attempting to embody native peoples and their traditions. I know that fiction allows a certain leeway, but given the history of genocide , the silencing of native voices, and the continued marginalization of native perspective with whites often narrating the stories (skewing the stories, telling lies that justify oppression), I can't excuse white writers speaking for natives. Even fictional tribes are often read as stand-ins--if not real--for native peoples.

All this explains why I don't have this novel on my list. Am I wrong to assume that this novel treats native peoples the way so many do?


Melody Hrmm, Ryan. There's a certain magical reality infusing this fiction that makes everyone wholly part of the small coastal town- and everyone respects and reveres one another's traditions. There's no way for me to read it with your eyes, of course, but now I want you to read it so I can hear what you think.

It's certainly not structured fiction, it's more of an agglomeration of stories which proceed in a semi-shambling way along a loose plot to a fantastic conclusion. Everyone is a combination of reality, caricature and fantastic creature.

It certainly felt respectful and awe-filled and loving toward all the different cultures contained within it to me.


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