Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Beginning: Children & Other Wild Animals



Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

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One time, years ago, I was shuffling with my children through the vast wet moist dripping enormous thicketed webbed muddy epic forest on the Oregon coast, which is a forest from a million years ago, the forest that hatched the biggest creatures that ever lived on this bruised blessed earth, all due respect to California and its redwood trees but our cedars and firs made them redwoods look like toothpicks, and my kids and I were in a biggest-creature mood, because we had found it slugs way longer than bananas, and footprints of elk that must have been gobbling steroids, and a friend had just told us of finding a bear print the size of a dinner plate, and all of us had seen whales in the sea that very morning, and all of us had seen pelicans too which look like flying pup tents, and how do they know to all hit cruise control at the same time, does the leader give a hand signal? as my son said, and one of us had seen the two ginormous young eagles who lived somewhere in this forest, so when we found the biggest stump in the history of the world, as my daughter called it, we were not exactly surprised, it was basically totally understandable that suddenly there would be a stop so enormous that it was like someone had dropped the dance floor into the forest, that's the sort of thing and that happens in this forest, and my kids of course immediately leapt up on it and started shaking their groove thangs, and dancing themselves silly, and I was snorting with laughter until one kid, the goofiest, why we did not name this kid Goofy when we had the chance in those first few dewy minutes of life I will never know, well, this kid of course shimmied over to the edge and fell off head over teakettle, vanishing into a mat of fern nearly as tall as me, but the reason I tell you this story is that while we were all down in the moist velvet dark of the roots of the ferns, trying to be solicitous about Goofy and see if he was busted anywhere serious but also trying not to laugh and whisper the word doofus, one of us found a newt! o my god! Dad! check it out!

-- From “A Newt Note” the first essay in Children & Other While Animals by Brian Doyle, published by OSU Press.

Brian Doyle is a Portland treasure and he writes some great books, fiction and non-fiction. I loved his book, The Grail, about making Oregon pinot noir wine (see my review, here).

I'm afraid that this first sentence -- yes! one sentence -- demonstrates what I find charming and annoying about some of his writing.  The exuberant run-on sentence is fun the first time, but gets exhausting fast.

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