Doyle, Brian 1956-2017
Born 1956, in New York, NY; son of James A. (a journalist) and Ethem Clancey Doyle (a teacher); married Mary Miller: children: Lily, Joseph, Liam (twins). Education: University of Notre Dame, graduated 1978. Religion: Catholic.
Office—Portland Magazine, University of Portland, Waldschmidt Hall, 5000 N. Willamette Blvd., Portland, OR 97203-5798. E-mail—[email protected]
U.S. Catholic (magazine), Chicago, IL, assistant editor; Boston College Magazine, Boston, MA, senior writer; Portland: The University of Oregon Magazine, Portland, editor.
Various national medals for excellence, 1996-2007, for Portland; Best Essay Award, American Scholar,2000, for essay on Plutarch; Christopher Award and Catholic Press Association Book Award, both for Two Voices: A Father and Son Discuss Family and Faith; Sibley Award for best university magazine in America, 2005, for Portland; Pushcart Prize, 2006, for
(With father, Jim Doyle) Two Voices: A Father and Son Discuss Family and Faith, Liguori Publications (Liguori, MO), 1996.
Credo: Essays on Grace, Altar Boys, Bees, Kneeling, Saints, the Mass, Priests, Strong Women, Epiphanies, a Wake, and the Haunting Thin Energetic Dusty Figure of Jesus the Christ, Saint Mary’s Press (Winona, MN), 1999.
Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies, Loyola Press (Chicago, IL), 2003.
(Editor) God Is Love: Essays from Portland Magazine, Augsburg Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.
Spirited Men: Story, Soul & Substance, Cowley Publications (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
The Wet Engine: Exploring the Mad Wild Miracle of the Heart, Paraclete Press (Brewster, MA), 2005.
Epiphanies and Elegies: Very Short Stories, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (Lanham, MD), 2006.
The Grail: A Year Ambling and Shambling through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir Wine in the Whole Wild World, drawings by Mary Miller Doyle, Oregon State University Press (Corvallis, OR), 2006.
Contributor to anthologies, including The Best Spiritual Writing, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1999, 2001, 2002; The Best American Essays, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005; In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal, edited by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones, W.W. Norton, (New York, NY) 1999; and Resurrecting Grace: Remembering Catholic Childhoods, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2002. Editor of “Best Catholic Writing” series, Loyola Press, 2004-06. Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, American Scholar, Harper’s, Gourmet, Sydney Morning Herald, Orion, and the London Times. Essayist for Eureka Street and the Age.
Brian Doyle is an award-winning author and essayist, and is the editor of Portland, a magazine noted for publishing the work of fine writers. Doyle’s father, James A. Doyle, was head of the Catholic Press Association for thirty years, and Brian Doyle’s work also expresses a deep faith and interest in Catholicism. He offers his reflections on various aspects of Catholicism in the collection Credo: Essays on Grace, Altar Boys, Bees, Kneeling, Saints, the Mass, Priests, Strong Women, Epiphanies, a Wake, and the Haunting Thin Energetic Dusty Figure of Jesus the Christ. The selections, all previously published in various periodicals, range from humorous to pious, and all feature “Doyle’s enviable skill as a wordsmith,” stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Another of Doyle’s essay collections, Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies, is recommended as an engaging read that will “inspire and entertain,” wrote John-Leonard Berg in Library Journal. Spirited Men: Story, Soul & Substance features Doyle’s essays on various influential men, from Plutarch to Van Morrison.
Doyle’s experiences as the parent of a child with a serious heart condition are the basis for his book The Wet Engine: Exploring the Mad, Wild Miracle of the Heart. Doyle’s son Liam, a twin, was born with a heart defect that required risky surgery, and even if he survived the operation, he would still require a heart transplant in adulthood. “Despite the book’s emotionally weighty subject, it is completely unsentimental,” advised Kris Berggren in the National Catholic Reporter. Though the author is emotionally honest in relating how he felt about possibly losing his child, his book is also full of scientific facts and details about surgeries and experiments related to the heart. Berggren felt that Doyle’s book offers readers “universal truths.” The Wet Engine was also recommended by a writer for Publishers Weekly, who characterized it as an involving “meditation on the fragile mysteries of human life.”
The Grail: A Year Ambling and Shambling through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir Wine in the Whole Wild World is something of a departure for Doyle, as it focuses on the intricacies of making pinot noir wine. During the course of a year, the writer observed a father-and-son team of vintners, Don and Jesse Lange, as they worked at their vineyard in Dundee, Oregon. In sixty-nine short chapters, Doyle reflects on various aspects of that year and what he learned. He discusses the winemaking process, as well as the people he came to know and the reflections their works stirs in him. “Those who love wine, [and] enjoy short juicy tidbits rather than long explanations … will find Doyle’s far-ranging essays and adjective-rich prose delightful and easily assimilated,” wrote LiDoña Wagner for Etude Online.A Publishers Weekly writer also praised The Grail as a “full-bodied, ebullient account.”
Doyle, in response to the question “What first got you interested in writing?”, told CA: “My dad was and is a wonderful writer—he was a newspaper editor and a man of remarkable blunt grace. He taught me more than anyone or anything that stories swim by the millions and most of being a writer is listening and seeing and then madly scribbling. Also I grew up in an Irish Catholic American family with lots of siblings so we were addicted to sagas and tall tales and storytelling as a means of making sure you got a place at the table.”
When asked who and what influence his work, Doyle said “Twain, Stevenson, Orwell, Flannery O’Connor, the King James Bible, my children’s wild joys and chants. Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, Bono. Hawks and osprey. Sunlight and coffee. Beaches. My lithe and mysterious wife. Chess. Excellent ale.”
When questioned about the effects he hopes his books will have, Doyle said, “Hope, joy, laughter, snarling, laughter, that cool moment of contemplation when you stop reading and think Hey… and in the end I hope to have prompted readers to a step closer to Blake’s dictum: if the doors of perception were cleansed we would see everything as it is, infinite….”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Christian Century, May 3, 2005, Lawrence Wood, review of Spirited Men: Story, Soul & Substance, p. 38.
Christianity Today, August, 2005, Cindy Crosby, review of The Wet Engine: Exploring the Mad Wild Miracle of the Heart, p. 70.
Library Journal, March 1, 2003, Graham Christian, review of God Is Love: Essays from Portland Magazine, p. 96; August, 2003, John-Leonard Berg, review of Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies, p. 90.
National Catholic Reporter, June 3, 2005, Kris Berggren, review of The Wet Engine, p. 18.
Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1999, review of Credo: Essays on Grace, Altar Boys, Bees, Kneeling, Saints, the Mass, Priests, Strong Women, Epiphanies, a Wake, and the Haunting Thin Energetic Dusty Figure of Jesus the Christ, p. 70; November 11, 2002, review of God Is Love, p. 60; April 11, 2005, review of The Wet Engine, p. 50; March 20, 2006, review of The Grail: A YearAmbling and Shambling through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir Wine in the Whole Wild World, p. 51.
Reviewer’s Bookwatch, January, 2005, John Taylor, review of Spirited Men.
Etude Online,http://etude.uoregon.edu/ (June 4, 2007), LiDoña Wagner, review of The Grail.
Nimble Spirit,http://www.nimblespirit.com/ (May 21, 2007), review of The Grail.
Notre Dame Magazine Online, http://www.nd.edu/˜ndmag/ (May 21, 2007), review of The Grail.
Oregon State University Web site,http://oregonstate.edu/ (April 13, 2006), information about The Grail.