Dear Brian Doyle,
I enjoyed your January 3, 2010 commentary “special to the Oregonian.” In fact, I enjoy your writing every time I see it. I enjoyed your writing before I ever saw you. You have been a writer “special to me” for years.
However, in my mind, a great disconnect existed between how I envisioned you and how you really look. I thought you were my age (which I am not going to disclose by the way), one of those distinguished looking silver-haired guys who is a tad portly in his tweed suit.
Then I saw you last fall in Manzanita and was so astonished I sat myself down and gave my imagination a good talking-to. You are ever so much younger than I imagined, more like my little brother who is 48 and whose hair has been every shade there is on Clairol’s shelves.
But that is not at all why I am writing to you. Even though I find your writing to be spectacular, Mr. Brian Doyle, I fear you do not totally comprehend the power of Jerzy Kosinski whom you dissed in your commentary. Especially powerful is his novel, The Painted Bird. The metaphor for how we even yet after WWII continue to treat so badly humans and other species not exactly like ourselves should not be lost on any of us.
Reading the part about the miller and the squished eyeballs aloud in my English class was sometimes the only thing that made my students shut up and pay attention. (Nowadays they might even stop texting.) I thought that was good writing, myself. If things got out of hand, I threatened the squished eyeballs, and order was restored. Unbelievably, no parents ever complained. Of Mice and Men they complained about, as well as the few “fuck’s” in Catcher in the Rye, but never the squished eyeballs. Go figure.
And wouldn’t you say that Being There got us ready for George W. Bush?
I hope you will re-think what you said about Jerzy. I know he lied by saying The Painted Bird was autobiographical. But hey, that just got us ready for James Frey. Jerzy was ahead of us on two counts right there.
P.S. I hope your gallbladder (pick one):
b. turns into an alien
c. is safely extracted