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Martin Marten by Brian Doyle

A lyrical ode to all the inhabitants of the world, fun-loving and deathly serious as nature.

marten

Fourteen-year-old Dave is one of the protagonists of Brian Doyle’s Martin Marten. He lives with his delightful, precocious six-year-old sister Maria and his wise, funny parents in a cabin on an Oregon mountain. Dave prefers to call the mountain Wy’east, which is the name given it by the people who lived there for thousands of years, rather than Hood, “which is what some guy from another country called it.”

Also in his adolescence on Wy’east in the same season that Dave enters high school and tries out for the cross-country team is Martin, who likewise is exploring his world, venturing farther from home and contemplating separation from his mother, and who will discover the females of his species around the same time that Dave does. A marten is a small, brownish mustelid with a diverse diet and a large territory, and Martin is as individual an example of his species as Dave is of his.

Doyle (Mink River) follows the coming-of-age of these two young males, and to varying degrees examines the lives and struggles of other inhabitants of Wy’east. These include the woman who runs the general store, Dave’s family and his best friend Moon, a schoolteacher and the dog who adopts him, a massive elk, an elderly bear and a retired horse, and each of their stories is deep and rich with humor and wisdom. The result is a lushly textured, loving, sensitive and whimsical symposium of trees, insects, birds and beasts.


This review originally ran in the April 14, 2015 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!


Rating: 10 tomatoes.

5 Responses

  1. […] will of course remember my glowing review of Brian Doyle’s most recent novel, Martin Marten, which remains the best book of 2015 to […]

  2. […] Martin Marten, Brian Doyle – fiction. A novel of two young creatures, a boy and a marten, showcasing outrageously fine writing and a unique sensitivity to the fact that we humans are not the only ones living and breathing on this planet. […]

  3. […] Martin Marten, Brian Doyle – fiction […]

  4. […] Mighty Currawongs and Other Stories by Brian Doyle (Martin Marten) roams broadly in subject matter, but always offers joyful, whimsical wordplay and an abiding love […]

  5. […] a novel with layers of authors, Brian Doyle (The Mighty Currawongs; Martin Marten) honors the art of storytelling. The Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World is […]

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