“Written in Celestial Prose”

19 Apr

“Written in celestial prose” is how the how the inimitable Cynthia Ozick describes Brian Doyle’s new opusThe Wet Engine Exploring the Mad Wild Miracle of the Heart(Oregon State University Press)

Internet tourists and visitors to this far flung place may recall that I have been a vocal enthusiast of Oregonian Brian Doyle based on his first novel Mink River
and his latest story collection Bin Laden’s Bald Spot.`

Here’s how Doyle begins The Wet Engine:

My son Liam was born nine years ago. He looked like a cucumber on steroids. He was fat and bald and round. He looked healthy as a horse. He wasn’t. He was missing a chamber in his heart, which is a problem, as you need four chambers for smooth conduct through this vale of fears and tears, and he only had three chambers, so pretty soon he had an open-heart surgery, during which doctors cut him open and iced down his heart and shut it down for an hour or so while they worked on repair…

Though it is a slight volume (128 pages) it astonishes me how much Brian Doyle was able to compress into this story that involves parental love, medical science, spiritual healing and the super sized metaphor that is attached to the vital organ known as the heart.

THere is much to admire in this book and much to savor —as Brian Doyle intones. “Romance is a small sea in a vast ocean.The heart leaps in so many directions at once.”

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