Brian Doyle| Fiction
I searched in my brain for a long time for the right word to use to describe this book. Then, in a review, I found it. Magic. To see through the eyes of Martin the Marten, and Louis the Elk, and Dave the 14-year-old boy, and his younger sister Maria, and Miss Moss and Moon – what a gift!
All these creatures and, literally, millions of other sentient beings, live on Wy’east, high in the mountain. You and I know this mountain as Mt. Hood in Oregon, but Doyle never mentions the name Hood; he calls it by the ancient Multnomah name.
We mostly follow Dave in the years he is 14 and 15, and Martin from his birth to his nearly-full-grown 3-foot-long body at 17 months. Their paths run parallel, with an occasional intersection – a tribute to the relationships humans can have with other animals. But this isn’t a mushy “Dave and Martin” story. The way Doyle explains their relationship is, frankly, quite believable. Even if it is still magical! The story of the small community of Zigzag is completely interwoven with the story of the mountain and its myriad other communities.
Doyle’s style is filled with intriguing visual images and playful words and delicious lists. His writing style is more than half the fun of reading Martin Marten. Doyle draws us in, sometimes quite directly. There are moments when he speaks to us, his readers, and he often refers to the page we are reading as part of a book.
This is a book to read, savor, and read again. It is a joyous celebration of life. Tell your friends.
(Thank you Marian for this fine selection for book club.)