Brian Doyle gives readers a double dose of spirituality

by: SUBMITTED PHOTOS - Lake Oswego author Brian Doyle

Best-selling and award-winning author Brian Doyle of Lake Oswego has released a 10th anniversary edition of “Leaping,” a collection of essays, and “The Thorny Grace of It and Other Essays for Imperfect Catholics.” Both books explore a myriad of Catholic topics presented with Doyle’s signature wit and rich language.

“With both these books I am after the roar and swirl and startle of spirituality far more than the polite jacket of religion,” Doyle said. “Religions are small and spirituality is vast. We are all spiritual beings, in our own fashions, whether we want to admit it or not, and with these essays I was after some accounting of defiant grace, thorny courage, mysterious kindness, the prevalence of daily miracles. We are so afraid of the world and yet we are slathered by miracles so much so that we could not account an hour’s worth in a week — fact.”

Doyle, who has been a Catholic all his life, said these are not so much Catholic or Christian books, but instead are attempts to “speak honestly of grace, which is a far bigger idea and amazement than any religion can claim, despite their general greedy possessiveness. They are about attentiveness rather than religion. Attentiveness is the beginning of all prayer.”

Doyle is a prolific writer; he has 13 books to his credit currently, and “A Shimmer of Something,” a collection of poetry, and “The Plover,” a second novel, are due out in spring 2014.

“I try to write an hour every morning, if I can,” he said. “You would be surprised how deep the muck gets in a year, as my dad says. I figure if I just show up every day, good things will eventually happen, and I can either collect them into books of essays and poems and stories or tack them onto the slowly growing elephant of a novel or a nonfiction book. I don’t set out to write books, quite — I just set out to write every day, to pay attention to the world with my fingers, so to speak, and the world is crammed with more astounding stories and moments and people and pain and joy than I could account in a century.”

He said he doesn’t experience writer’s block because he enjoys writing so much.

The 10th anniversary edition of Leaping is available now from area book sellers and online sources.

“Essays are fun and poems are happy accidents,” he said.

His first novel, “Mink River,” was the 2012 selection for Lake Oswego Reads and reading programs throughout the state. Many readers wondered what became of Declan O’Donnell, one of the story’s most beloved characters. Because Doyle writes “with his fingers” from his subconscious, he didn’t know, and so he took up the story to find out.

The answer can be found in “The Plover.”

“’The Plover’ is a companion, sort of, to “Mink River. It’s not a sequel, but it does take one character from ‘Mink River’ and gives him his own book,” Doyle said. “At the end of ‘Mink River,’ a man named Declan O’Donnell sails right out of the book on his boat, The Plover. This new novel, due out in April from St. Martin’s Press in New York City, tells what happens to him on his voyage.”

Doyle’s books can be ordered online from, or from local book sellers.

The Thorny Grace of It: And Other Essays for Imperfect Catholics is a new book of essays by Brian Doyle.

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