Brian Doyle | The Sun Magazine #2

Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle was an Oregon-based novelist, essayist, poet, and editor. His novels include Martin Marten and The Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World. He died in 2017.

— From January 2023
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

How To Hit Your Dad

It never occurred to me when I was little that there was a world in which dads did not come home from the bar and beat up their oldest sons. It was totally normal, you know what I mean?

October 2014
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Her Pillow

Our grandmother’s pillow, more than anything else, smelled like her. Her scent was talcum powder and lavender and rosary beads and butter and rectitude.

June 2014
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

We Did

Did we punch and hammer and jab each other as children, thrashing and rambling, a large family in a small house filled with brothers and one older sister with bony fists and no reluctance to use them?

March 2014
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


The names are all typed on the coach’s old typewriter which screws up the letter y so it looks more like w so you check again from the top looking for Dowle, Brian and then you check again reading up from the bottom this time just in case some weird thing happened because you wear thick spectacles and the gym door has this thick old shimmery glass and maybe the two densities of glass cancel each other out or something.

November 2013
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Essay In Which My Uncle Eddy And I Attend His Funeral

I want to ask Uncle Eddy how it could possibly be that he is sitting in my car as we drive through Katonah, New York, on the way to Danbury, but sometimes in life you just roll with what’s happening and try to make sense of it after it happens.

October 2013
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Dawn And Mary

Early one morning several teachers and staffers at a Connecticut grade school were in a meeting. The meeting had been underway for about five minutes when they heard a chilling sound in the hallway. (We heard pop-pop-pop, said one of the staffers later.)

August 2013
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


I remember there was a long pause while Sandy panted and our grand-aunt cried and we tried to calculate how we were going to get this dog out of the house and into the car. And then my tall kid brother bent down and picked Sandy up as if the dog weighed no more than an ounce, and he straightened up, with his arms full of dying dog, and there was this look on his face that I just cannot find the words for. That’s the story I want to tell you.

July 2013
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Mister Kim

Mr. Kim is abrupt. He is brief. He is short. He is terse. He is direct. He does not beat around the bush. He brooks no nonsense. He is from elsewhere. He does not say from where. He does not like that question. He says, “Elsewhere,” when you ask that question. He may or may not be married.

May 2013

Eulogy For A Northern Short-Tailed Shrew In The Driveway Of A House West Of Chicago, In The Prairie State Of Illinois,

Who almost certainly did not call himself (or herself; I could not bring myself / To quite that level of examination of the deceased; gender identity is complex / Enough while you are alive, and moot afterward) northern, or short-tailed, or / Blarina brevicauda, or anything we would understand.

December 2012

First Kiss

One thing no one ever informs you of when you get ready to kiss a girl / For the first time is where to put your nose: do you lay it alongside / Hers, like a skipper eases his ship along a dock, or do you take turns, / Alternating left and right?

November 2012

Mr. Oleander

“Your move,” said Avior. “What will you do? How will you explain the pawns who are no longer powerless? There are so many. We have strength in numbers. We have power, you know. It is a capital mistake to think that small things do not have power.”

June 2012
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


My friend Tommy Crotty, who was a terrific basketball player in New York and went on to play college ball and be a cheerful husband and excellent dad before the idiot who just died in Abbottabad murdered him and thousands of people on September Eleventh, used to call every big guy he ever played with Meat.

March 2012
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