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Bin Laden's Bald Spot: Other Stories

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  27 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

Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Red Hen Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Enjoyable collection of short stories by a fun and imaginative story teller. Two stories stood out: "The Man Who Wanted to Live in the Library" (which resonated with me) and "Yoda" (a really dear tale). Didn't enjoy this book as much as his novel "Chicago: A Novel" which probably requires one to have lived in Chicago and/or to just enjoy the fantasy of a talking dog, but with the untimely death of this treasured, delightful writer we have only a set amount of tales to choose from and enjoy.
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brian Doyle was a brilliant and charming man, a gem among Portland, Oregon’s many writers. I wept when he died of a brain tumor in 2017. That said, sometimes I want to scream, “Brian, put a period in somewhere! Start a new paragraph already!” With page-long paragraphs and sentences that go on for days, it took me a while to get through this book of short stories. Yet that was part of his genius. I heard him read several times. He wrote like he read, building phrase upon phrase to a hysterical cr ...more
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Pullen
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Brian Doyle was a fine writer who is so missed. These stories have an incandescent, compassionate, and sometimes humorous voice. However, many of them feel a bit incomplete to me. Good work, but not Doyle's best. A few of the stories in this collection, however, are transcendent.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best short story collections I've ever read. God, I miss this guy.
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I did not like this as much as I wanted to.
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Kat Masek
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
John Orman
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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."
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
"I was standing in the hallway by the coats and I had this powerful urge to just cover myself with the coats for a few months."

This is another strange and delightful collection of stories. Invoking both familiar and out of place feelings in day to day life this collection is told by and about interesting people.

We get to see clips inside peoples lives and their thoughts and accomplishments. Some of the stories start to blend together but overall it's a hearty collection.
Brittany Wilmes
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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.
May 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Kenzie Townsend
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was recommended by a friend and I thought it was excellent. It was funny but not too funny or tried to hard. Like listening to an old friend's tall tales.
May 08, 2012 marked it as to-read
from publisher
Mary Dansak
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love Brian Doyle. More delightful stories.
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Valley Cottage Library
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Quirky and refreshingly sweet short stories told by lovable narrators. Seriously, you will love these guys.
Amy M
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
quirky & indelible. a punch to the gut. a great mashup of the subtleties & complexities of life & its characters. & here's to Dennis Dennis, may he rest in pieces. ...more
Marty Wolk
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am loving these short short stories, tightly packed with action. The intensity of TC Boyle, with the economy of words of Raymond Carver.
Nate Mazzuca
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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 was a book reviewer for The Oregonian and a contributing es ...more

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