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Promiscuous Read: The Plover by Brian Doyle

Eclectic reader? Adventurous reader? Snobbish reader?

I’ve been called all those things by people who aren’t readers. Because to me, a person is either a reader or they’re not.

I classify books as “great books” and “dreck.” Period. I don’t even pay attention to the genre, because I don’t care. A good book deserves to be read, especially when we are served up so many not-good-books and told to love them. (The Goldfinch, anyone?)

In an effort to call attention to writers who deserve readers, I’m going to highlight books here from time to time, and I’m calling that ongoing series “Promiscuous Reading.”

Because, really. I’ll curl up with any good book. Invite it into my bed. Let it penetrate every orifice and cavity until I’m spent.

Today’s Promiscuous Read is The Plover by Brian Doyle.

(No, I don’t know Brian Doyle. His publicist/publisher didn’t provide me with a free copy of his novel. Nobody asked me to read/review/promote it. Because if that’s how everything happens, then most writers will never make money ever, ever again.)

I covet Brian Doyle’s ability to weave a sentence. I wish I could craft a sliver of a continuous paragraph as well as he does. His books read like Celtic or Viking sagas. Lyrical without the poetry. Oddball characters. Magic in the ordinary. I doled The Plover out like breadcrumbs, and it still ended too soon.

Because of Brian Doyle, I will never fly over the Pacific Ocean. Without staring at the blank expanse. And thinking of him.

SkipΒ The Goldfinch. Help a deserving author and buyΒ The Plover instead. You can findΒ The Plover and other books by Brian Doyle by following the link to Amazon here: I’m a Promiscuous Reader!

What unheard-of, unusual, read-worthy book have you finished lately, Dear Reader?

This post is part of a series. To read the first post, click here: Desperately Seeking a Shepherd; to read the second post, click here: College Football? What a Waste of Time!

55 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ah. The Goldfinch. That was a tough one for me. I adored The Secret History, but I think Donna Tartt and I must be around the same age. That book represented a time and place for me. But The Goldfinch. My standard response to that one is this: I appreciate the craft, but not the heft. I need to get in the habit of reading more independent authors. For a long time I only read women. I will follow your series with interest, and hopefully find some new favorites tucked in there. I also need to get an e-reader app so this sort of thing becomes more accessible to me.

    July 16, 2014
    • I’m reading another oddball book now. I will be giving away a copy (and I’ll even ship to Denmark. πŸ™‚ )

      I’m glad you got to spend some time in NYC this summer. I only know one other person who calls it ‘home’ in the sense that they were born and grew up there.

      July 16, 2014
  2. this sounds wonderful. your ‘doling it out like breadcrumbs and ending too soon’ line speaks volumes. i love to learn of books and authors new to me, and like you, i tend to read books that i am drawn too, not always the most popular ones.

    July 16, 2014
    • I hope you’ll give this one a try, Beth. Given the way you write, I really think you’d bond with it.

      July 16, 2014
  3. Thank you for your promiscuity, Kate. πŸ™‚ I’m always looking for something other than the force-fed best seller and will look toward this series and to The Plover.

    We will be reading The Goldfinch for our book discussion book. Since not everyone can get their hands on it as yet and the library waits are older than dirt, we will wait (and that I can do, wait).

    Still hot there? We’re having a polar vortex of a day. Sigh.

    July 16, 2014
    • A polar vortex sounds like heaven right now….. πŸ™‚

      July 16, 2014
  4. I thought The Goldfinch was okay, which is hardly a glowing review. It was work to get to the end, and I only persevered because I loved Tartt’s other two books. The Plover is on my to-read list, and now it has moved nearer the top, thanks to you! I’ve been catching up on a lot of reading, and getting schooled left and right on how it’s done. Humbling and exhilarating!

    July 16, 2014
  5. Ha! Promiscuous Read! I’m going to have to remember that!
    I’ve been trying to make it through The Goldfinch. It’s beautifully written, but I haven’t been able to finish it.

    July 16, 2014
    • I say and say and say that beautiful writing alone isn’t enough. The literary fiction people need to get a grip and realize that. If I can’t stand the characters or follow a plot or care about the story, lovely writing won’t cut it for me. I felt that way about The Snow Child also. Beautiful writing, with a predictable plot and a whiney female lead.

      July 16, 2014
  6. vastlycurious.com #

    What a great review of The Plover. (curious what that means ) Don’t be appalled dear gifted writer but I cannot fit this in currently. I used to read 2 books per week a few years ago and then entered a new job and blogging and painting and riding. I try in bed but even a great read and I am asleep almost immediately! When I have more free time I will start with your book Andra.

    July 16, 2014
    • Plovers are a widely distributed group of wading birds belonging to the subfamily Charadriinae. There are about 66 species[1] in the subfamily, most of them called “plover” or “dotterel”. The closely related lapwing subfamily, Vanellinae, comprises another 20-odd species.

      from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plover

      July 16, 2014
      • vastlycurious.com #

        Why thank you kindly Mr. Kenneth, I googled it right after I wrote it. Now I am really curious about the plot of this book !

        July 16, 2014
    • Not appalled. Books have a lot of entertainment types with which to compete these days, and few books leave the reader wanting more.

      July 16, 2014
      • vastlycurious.com #

        I was a huge, huge Anne Rice fan

        July 16, 2014
      • vastly, I was also a huge, huge Anne Rice fan and I tell you, that is one of the reasons I think I dug Andra’s book so much. There are definitely touchstones in there for folks like us.

        July 16, 2014
  7. I agree with you about reading whatever you want. I have people ask me what author/genre I read the most and I’m always at a loss for an answer. I read whatever I find that appeals to me in the moment. No need to get bogged down in one area of literature, imho.

    July 16, 2014
    • I used to get on jags and binge read certain authors. I can’t remember the last time I did that. Maybe Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

      July 16, 2014
  8. You would be proud, my wife actually bought a book yesterday. She said she was tired of reading dreck (your word, not hers) that she was downloading for free. So she actually paid for a well written and edited book that she really wanted to read. I am so proud of her. Now if more people would just start paying for their books….

    July 16, 2014
    • It’s hard to know what to buy. I’ve got a couple of books on my reading list right now that I’m going to remove, because (even as a writer), I’m not paying almost $20 for an e-book. There are certainly costs associated with producing something of quality, but those don’t add up to an a enormous price.

      July 16, 2014
  9. I am certainly a Promiscuous Reader. And I share your enthusiasm for Brian Doyle. His cunningly woven sentences weave their own designs into your heart. In “The Plover,” I fell deeply in love with little Pipa. All of my father/grandfather instincts stood up and rejoiced. It’s interesting to realize that at the end of Doyle’s “Mink River,” we see Declan sailing out to sea on the Plover, making his way to the next novel.

    July 16, 2014
    • I liked The Plover better, I think because it centered on Declan. Mink River had so many stories going on, and I sometimes had a hard time following it. Still an awesome read, though.

      July 16, 2014
      • I spent my 20s in one of those little “cups of land” described in “Mink River.” I got married there, one of my children was born there, both were conceived there, it has always been home. So, to read that novel was like going home for me. The people were rendered with loving care and rendered justly. That being said, I think “The Plover” is a ‘better’ novel. But together, they make one grand story. I am giddy with anticipation to see what comes next.

        July 16, 2014
  10. “unheard-of, unusual, read-worthy book”…eeek – Depending on the audience that can be almost anything. For instance, I know everyone knows the name but beyond what people were forced to read in high school, how many people have actually sat down and read a Shakespeare play, especially one without “Lear”, “Hamlet”, “Macbeth” or “Romeo and Juliet” in the title?

    Roberto Bolano’s “The Savage Detectives” was an award winning NYT best book of the year. I only know 3 people who have read it.

    Just finished “Black Vodka”, Ten Stories by Deborah Levy. Her writing is insanely brilliant, touching, spare but full.

    Anything by Marcia Muller, particularly in the Sharon McCone series.

    I shall now depart my soap box and get back to work.

    July 16, 2014
    • I’ve read Comedy of Errors multiple times. πŸ™‚

      I’ve also read “The Savage Detectives,” but you may have included me in your three. I adore Bolano and read everything his people choose to publish. I’m sad he’s gone.

      I’ll look for “Black Vodka” and Marcia Muller.

      July 16, 2014
    • Does Marcia Muller still write the Sharon McCone series? I loved that.

      July 16, 2014
      • She does. I read “Looking For Yesterday” (from 2013) last week. Her new McCone, The Night Searcher, just came out on July 1st.

        July 16, 2014
  11. tarakianwarrior #

    Reading a book is an experience. I purchase very few hard bound/soft bound books due to having a Nook, however, I much prefer a hard bound/soft bound book. I never let them go. I have boxes and boxes of books in our shed because we do not have room in our house and I cannot bear to let them go…with an e-reader – well, the experience just isn’t there. You make me want to get out of the box I’ve put myself in (due to financial constraints I only read what I know I’m going to like – due to massive depression issues I try and stay away from books that will sniff at the edges of my psyche and lower me into the depths of despair – melodramatic? Perhaps, however, when I read I am in it 100% so whatever happens to them, happens to me.), and perhaps I will start with The Plover. πŸ™‚

    My son is always telling me that there are people like me that immerse myself in movies and books to the point that it can be detrimental. I read a book once that was so emotionally charged that I sank into a depressive state for over two months.

    July 16, 2014
    • I once read a book called Shade by Neil Jordan (of The Crying Game fame), and I was altered for days. I don’t even think the book was released here (I bought it in Australia.) So, I absolutely get that.

      July 16, 2014
      • tarakianwarrior #

        That would do it!

        July 16, 2014
  12. None, I’m afraid!

    July 16, 2014
    • I’m doing a giveaway next week on one I’m reading now. Maybe you’ll win!!

      July 16, 2014
  13. “Words,words, words,” Hamlet lamented. Yes,I really have read most of Shakespeare. Books are like my life’s blood. When I was really poor and couldn’t afford to buy any, I would fill my arms with books from the library and consider myself insanely rich. I will give any book a try. Sometimes, I have thrown it across the room; other times, I will fondly cradle it or put it aside for another day. It is rewarding to find that other readers did not clutch The Goldfinch to their breasts in awed wonder. Recently, a friend gave me an edition of The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery that I keep on my night basket to re-read. I highly recommend it.
    It’s interesting how a book can capture one. Every time, for the 23 years that I taught it, I have found something new in The Great Gatsby. Another intriguing book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, one of my favorite authors.
    Enough of my ramblings! Thank you for a most enjoyable post, Andra.

    July 16, 2014
    • I loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog, too!!

      When I was a kid, I actually wore out my library card. It broke in half from excessive use. πŸ™‚

      July 16, 2014
  14. Kir Piccini #

    oh The Goldfinch. Honestly, I have/had a love/hate relationship with that book. The end spoke to me, finally, and I came to appreciate the book for its story. Once I took it on like 3 different novellas instead of a one story it moved more easily for me, but it took me a long time to get and stay interested. I still wouldn’t classify it as a great book but I do recommend it to other people because I felt like I was the one who was wrong. “I must be missing something” I muttered as I tried to finish it.

    And like you I have read books that are never going to leave me. “We Need to Talk about Kevin” or “The Red Tent” or even “The Eight” and yes, Audra, even “To Live Forever…” Parts of those stories just stay with you in your heart, in your mind and just outside of your consciousness.

    July 16, 2014
    • That’s another thing I can’t stand about the PR for these big titles: If a bunch of people don’t like it, let’s do a campaign to tell you why you’re all wrong.

      You’re not wrong.

      July 16, 2014
      • Kir Piccini #

        I want to say “Thank you” for this. It seems so small but I honestly believed I was stupid or dense or completely out of the loop of pop culture because I wasn’t seeing (or obviously reading) what everyone else was.

        I ended up finding some merit in the book, in the author’s process and her beautiful descriptions but I still can’t justify the outpouring of love for this book.

        So thank you for letting me know I wasn’t daft or dumb.

        July 16, 2014
  15. I hated the Goldfinch, too! I gave up on it.

    July 16, 2014
  16. Amen! You might be the first person I’ve crossed that actually hated the Goldfinch. I refused to even hate it on my blog for fear I would make others read it.

    July 16, 2014
    • I’m not the first person I’ve crossed who hated it. And, I’m glad I gave lots of people permission to say how they really felt about it.

      July 16, 2014
  17. Promiscuous reader here too, Andra. πŸ™‚ The Goldfinch has sat at the bottom of my TBR stack for ages now and I think it will stay there permanently which is sad because I loved The Secret History… I have two books ready to start now if I can only decide which to pick up first: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie and Skin Game by Jim Butcher. I might have to flip a coin. πŸ™‚

    July 16, 2014
    • I love your recs, Lisa. I will be looking these up, stat. Thank you.

      July 16, 2014
  18. I’ve had no desire to read the Goldfinch, but Brian’s book on the other hand….

    July 16, 2014
  19. You are one of a kind. Great review. Need to get the book and add it to the pile. To Live Forever An Afterlife Adventure of Meriwether Lewis is several ahead of the Plover.

    July 16, 2014
    • Ah! Like you, I try to keep up with my reading. I mostly fail, but I try. πŸ™‚

      July 16, 2014
  20. Promiscuous read eh? Have you been watching those hysterical literature videos again…?

    July 17, 2014
    • I’m behind on my reading, and I’ve been trying to catch up.

      July 17, 2014
  21. Both The Plover and The Goldfinch are on my Kindle, and I haven’t yet read either! I will take your advice. I recently finished “And Then Like My Dreams,” written by an Australian blogger I’ve enjoyed, M.R. Stringer. It’s memoir and fascinating! I really enjoyed it. I am fighting for reading time these days, but I’m never without a pile of books–and eclectic reading is a fine way to categorize me. Snobbish? Who would know? I hardly ever have anyone to talk to about what I’m reading. *sigh*

    July 19, 2014
  22. I suppose I am not a promiscuous reader. GAH! I have tons of books that I have read over the years. I believe I have collected all of the hard copy novels that Clancy has written. I have not collected any of the books he has co authored but I have read several of them. I prefer a hard copy book because it makes me “feel” like I am reading a book. As my eyes have aged I find myself buying the hard copy and then downloading the ebook just so I can rest my eyes by reading a larger font with different shading other than black and white. I do know that I can tell if I am going to like a book by reading the first page or two. If the author can keep me interested for a page or two then I am good to go. If I am bored out of my mind and falling asleep on the first couple of pages then it is a no go. I loved your book Andra, I read the entire thing!

    July 22, 2014

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