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Doyle's new novel a 'love letter to most American great city'

'Chicago' is a 'love letter to the most American great city'


SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lake Oswego author Brian Doyles latest novel Chicago: A Novel will be available at bookstores everywhere March 29.

Lake Oswego award-winning author Brian Doyle will release his latest novel, “Chicago,” on March 29. His novels have captured the hearts of readers across the spectrum. Charming and quirky, his novels grapple with what it means to be a human interacting with every living organism.

“Chicago” starts on the last day of summer, “some years ago,” when a young college graduate heads to Chicago and rents a little apartment on the city’s north side, “by the vast and muscular lake.” The book’s description states that: “This is the story of the five seasons he lives there, during which he meets gangsters, gamblers, policemen, a brave and garrulous bus driver, a cricket player, a librettist, his first girlfriend, a shy apartment manager and many other riveting souls, not to mention a wise and personable dog of indeterminate breed.”

Doyle took the time to respond to a request from The Review for more insight into his work.

“This is an odd book that burst out and almost wrote itself,” Doyle wrote in an email to The Review. “I did live and work in Chicago for two years fresh out of college, but it is wholly and utterly fiction. I started a few years ago, to just jot notes about Chicagoness, as it were, almost to try to catch shreds of memory, and the notes soon grew fanciful, and voices started burbling, and away we went.

“I think, myself, it really is a love letter to the most American great city — Chicago is in the middle, it rises magically like Oz from the plains of corn and soybeans, it’s rough and deft and proud and corrupt and glorious and terrible and creative and a wild icy humid sneer all at once; It’s named for its own place, and not labeled with imperial monikers; it contains all races and creeds and colors and sorts of stories; and it’s wholly American in a way that maybe other great cities like New York and Los Angeles are not, quite, you know?”

Doyle continues, saying that N.Y. and L.A. are “world cities” whereas Chicago is “indisputably and inarguably American through and through.”

He also offered a comparison of “Chicago,” published by Thomas Dunne Books, to his other novels, which include “Mink River,” “The Plover” and “Martin Marten.”

“I think it’s a coming-of-age book, and it ended up starting a really wry dog,” Doyle writes, “but I suspect it’s also some sort of long meditation and exploration of cityness, in the way that ‘Mink River’ was about Oregonness, and ‘The Plover’ was about oceanness, and ‘Martin Marten’ about mountainness.”

Doyle is the editor of “Portland Magazine” at the University of Portland, and he is the author of 20 books of essays, fiction, poems and nonfiction. His laurels include the American Academy of Arts & Letters in Literature.

Brian Doyle