by Brian Doyle • 220 pages • Paperback Book
Is Brian Doyle the most passionate Catholic storyteller in America? Here is new evidence that he is. In this brand new compilation of some of his best stories that have appeared in various publications throughout the world, Doyle explores the promise of Catholicism in America that he has experienced and observed from his childhood through today.
If you are like me, which God forbid such a sorry penance, you find yourself contemplating That or Whom which we call God (for lack of a better label) on a regular basis, and I do not mean church on Sunday. I mean daily, thrice daily, five times daily and twice at night, because you know, down under sense and logic and reason, that there is a Singing, a Breathing, a Mercy beyond accounting under and through all things; and you wish to love and thank Whatever or Whomever this is; and, in fact, if you are honest with yourself, you find that you no longer wish to be granted favors, as you did when you were young, but rather you wish quietly to put your small gifts in harness to Whomever’s agenda, because you know now, after fifty years, that it is all about love, and that is why we are here, and life is short, and you had better work as hard as you can for love, which is another word for That or Whom.
Some of the eighty stories in So Very Much the Best of Us include: Confirmation Day, Best Napper of the Year, How to Love Your Neighbor Who is a Roaring Idiot or Even Worse, Visitation Day, A Song for Nurses, How to Hit Your Dad, Swallowing an Otter, Little Kids in Mass, The Rude Burl of Our Masks, Like the Dew that Blesses the Grass, The Manner of His Murder, Librarious, and The Most Beautiful Boat There Ever Was.
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Brian Doyle was a hirsute shambling shuffling mumbling grumbling muttering muddled maundering meandering male being who edited Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon — the best university magazine in America, according to Newsweek, and "the best spiritual magazine in the country," according to author Annie Dillard, clearly a woman of surpassing taste and discernment.
Doyle's books have four times been finalists for the Oregon Book Award, and his essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Orion, The American Scholar, and in newspapers and magazines around the world. His essays have also been reprinted in the annual Best American Essays, Best American Science & Nature Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies. Among various honors for his work is a Catholic Book Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and, mysteriously, a 2008 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
His greatest accomplishments are that a riveting woman said yup when he mumbled a marriage proposal, that the Coherent Mercy then sent them three lanky snotty sneery testy sweet brilliant nutty muttering children in skin boats from the sea of the stars, and that he made the all-star team in a Boston men's basketball league that was a really tough league, guys drove the lane in that league they lost fingers, man, one time a guy drove to the basket and got hit so hard his right arm fell off but he was lefty and hit both free throws, so there you go.