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The Storycatcher - 17 of the best of Brian Doyle

  • 30 May 2017


Brian Doyle, editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, author most recently of the essay collection Grace Notes, and a long time contributor to Eureka Street, died early Saturday morning 27 May 2017 following complications related to a cancerous brain tumour, at the age of 60. Here we present, in no particular order, a collection of some of Brian's best pieces from the past 12 years.

1. As close as we ever came to the Navy

When we were 17 and 18, the thought of joining the Navy was both fascinating and chilling, for the war in Vietnam was still seething, and all of us had registered for the draft, as required by law. We crowded around a television one night in March to watch the draft lottery, and some had crowed when their numbers were drawn near the end, and others like me were stunned and frightened when our numbers were drawn early. All the rest of my life I will remember hearing my number called first among all my friends, and the way they turned to me with complicated messages written on their faces, and the way one boy laughed and started to rag me and then stopped as abruptly as if someone had punched him, which maybe someone had.

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2. The many sins of Brian Doyle

Also I did for years take my lovely bride for granted, more than a little; I did think that being married meant that she would never leave me and I could drift into a gentle selfishness that she would have to endure because she had sworn in a church before many witnesses to be true in good times and bad, in sickness and health, to love and honour you all the days of my life, I carry those words in my wallet; but I did not look at them enough and contemplate them and mull over them and take them deep into my salty heart and consider what they asked me to do and be, and there came dark years, and I was in no small part responsible for their bleakness and pain.

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3. Death and peach pies

I went in the kitchen with high hopes. His mum was the kind of mum who baked more than one pie at a time and gave the extra pies away easily and casually as if a peach pie was something to give away rather than