We all know our neighbor Brian Doyle a little better after Feb. 8's community barbecue, which was followed by his talk about his novel, 'Mink River,' the Lake Oswego Reads selection for 2012.

The barbecue, sponsored by the Lake Oswego Women's Club, was catered by Buster's Barbecue and fashioned after a community barbecue that took place in 'Mink River' in the fictitious town of Neawanka on the Oregon Coast. You'll have to read the book to find out the details of how the barbecue came to occur.

Doyle was genuinely moved to see the auditorium at Lake Oswego High School nearly full to capacity with people eager to learn more about the book and its unassuming author.

'Thank you to the library staff,' he said. 'And thank you to my town. I am standing here as your neighbor and you are here for the stories … How sweet is that?'

He began by celebrating the people who were 'the first people of Lake Oswego, the Clackamas people of Waluga, the 'Place of the Swans.''

Doyle said that he had had several opportunities to talk with book club members about 'Mink River.'

'I like to be quiet and let people tell me what 'Mink River' is about,' he said. 'And this is what I hear: It's about Oregonness. It has an Oregon character to it.

'It has a townness to it. This is why I live here.

'It's a book about hope and healing, even with sickness and death.

'It's a eulogy to attentiveness … seeing clearly. … There are no small things. Pay attention to others … it has made me a better man and a better writer.'

To illustrate Lake Oswego's townness, he read excerpts from 'The Lake Oswego Review's' police blotter, which caused chuckles to ripple through the audience. He encouraged those present to care about each other and to tell stories of substance about who we are and why we are here.

'Stories are not just for entertaining,' he said. 'They are what you hold in your heart. … The stories we choose to tell advance the universe. We are story junkies,' he said. 'And they can save lives. Humor is such a powerful weapon. Laughter is a weapon against the dark.'

Lake Oswego Reads events continue through February. For a complete list of events, visit

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