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Martin Marten: A Novel by Brian Doyle

Martin Marten: A Novel

by Brian Doyle

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A delightful literary read about nature, including people and animals. In this, my second Brian Doyle book, he also writes in intelligent run-on sentences but it wasn't as noticable as in The Plover. Fun story full of memorable characters. Martin is a marten, one of the fastest mammals. Dave is a teenager, a runner. Moon is his friend. There's a smidge of magic in the story, a drizzle of fantasy, but don't worry, it's almost believable and is minimal. The book parallels a slice of time in the lives of the characters and Dave and his family and in the life of Martin and his family. Dave and Martin come to know each of each other, curiously drawn. Even martens can tell when a human animal is kind. Doyles writing is mesmerizing. I always look up words when I read him. The setting is Mt. Hood in Oregon, tiny hamlet of people and nature. The reader will learn much about certain animals. ( )
  Rascalstar | May 3, 2017 |
april 2015
  SGLibrary | Feb 17, 2016 |
Stunning, lyrical, realistic story following the lives of two youngsters living on Mt. Hood, Oregon. Though Martin is a pine marten and Dave is a human, they grow up in the same environment and learn from their families and neighbors how to be a part of their community. Doyle writes eloquently from both points of view. The community of characters both wild and human are fascinating, full of quirks and wisdom. I love how Doyle makes them all equal in the community. Delightful woodcut illustrations interspersed throughout add a peaceful lull. I cannot say enough about this novel. It is my book of the year for 2015. ( )
  bookwren | Jan 1, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this book although I was unsure at the beginning that I would. I learned heaps about martens and the Mt Hood. There are similarities in this book between the author's attitude to the world - I hesitate anymore to call it the natural world - and the philosophy of tangata whenua in New Zealand.

Pope Francis would I am sure appreciate this book as it has so many features which fit in with Laudato Si'.

I found the characters likeable and of course at the end I wanted to know what happened to them. We find some pointers to that with Dave and Martin. There were similarities to Watership Down in that one always felt that some portentous event was hanging over Martin.

Mapping the world at different levels is a challenge this book throws up - this was Maria's specialty - how did the teachers at her school keep such a student engaged?
  louis69 | Dec 16, 2015 |
Doyle artfully blends creatures of all natures in this fictional account of life in the mountains. There are multiple convincing scenes of people opening themselves to commune with wildlife as well as creatures from the great outdoors seeking and observing people. Poetic, endearing, and clever, this novel will help readers decide that hope is a reliable constant that defines our very existence. ( )
  Meghanista | Nov 7, 2015 |
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Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. Thes least we can do is try to be there. -Annie Dillard (from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek?)
We will never, we cannot, leave [animals] alone, even the tiniest one, ever, because we know we are one with them. Their blood is our blood. Their breath is our breath, their beginning our beginning, their fate our fate. Thus we deny them. Thus we yearn for them. They are among us and within us and of us, inextricably woven with the form and manner of our being, with our understanding and our imaginations. They are the grit and the salt and the lullaby of our language. - Pattiann Rogers, "Animals and People"
The unthinkable / is thinkable. -Wislawa Szymborska
For Mary
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Dave is fourteen years old.
It's wrong to say that animals do not feel what we feel; indeed, they may feel far more than we do and in far different emotional shades. Given that their senses are often a hundred times more perceptive than ours, could not their emotional equipment be similarly vast? (p. 55)
The fact is that there are more stories the the space of a single second, in a single square foot of dirt and air and water, than we could tell each other in a hundred years. The word amazing isn't much of a world for how amazing that is. The fact is that there are more stories in the world than there are fish in the sea or birds in the air or lies among politicians. You could be sad at how many stories go untold, but you could also be delighted at how many stories we catch and share in delight and wonder and astonishment and illumination and sometimes even epiphany. The fact is that the more stories we share about living beings, the more attentive we are to living beings, and perhaps the less willing we are to slaughter them and allow them to be slaughtered. That could be. (p. 57)
He [Martin the marten] did not "think" about evidence and implications as we do; he absorbed the evidence and drew conclusions and implications in another way that we do not yet understand and perhaps never will. We would be very foolish and arrogant to conclude that our way of thinking is necessarily better or deeper than his, especially as we don't actually understand his way; wouldn't that be like saying your language is better than another, though you do not speak the other? Does that make sense? No? Yet that is what our species has done for many long years. Perhaps the less we think we know, the wiser we are and the closer to actual understanding we get. Perhaps the more we learn, abashed and humble, about the ways other beings think, the closer we get to other ways of living. (p. 69)
Also in the meadow of course were many other guests either resident therein or visitors passing through on business, and Dave and Moon made a list of all the other beings who attended Maria's birthday party and presented her with the gift of themselves, as Moon said: crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, ants worms, wasps, bees, damselflies, dragonflies, moths, butterflies, swallows, jays, crows, warblers, a tiny woodpecker, squirrels, chipmunks, and what sure seemed like a peregrine falcon, although it went by far too fast to get a good look. Also Moon was sure he saw a deer's long sad face in the shadows under the trees, and Dave pointed out that if you considered the meadow to be an endless vertical space as well as a finite horizontal space, you could include geese, cranes, ravens, and what probably was an eagle, although ti was too high to see clearly. (p. 72-3)
Some are readily seen, like ... coyotes, who are all flourishing, tribally, what with the vast and savory dining opportunities that people provide ... unconsciously (providing cats for coyote appetizers ... (p. 75)
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"Dave is fourteen years old, living with his family in a cabin on Oregon's Mount Hood (or as Dave prefers to call it, like the Native Americans once did, Wy'east). He is entering high school, adulthood on the horizon not far off in distance, and contemplating a future away from his mother, father, and his precocious younger sister. And Dave is not the only one approaching adulthood and its freedoms on Wy'east that summer. Martin, a pine marten (a small animal of the deep woods, of the otter/mink family), is leaving his own mother and siblings and setting off on his own as well. As Martin and Dave's paths cross on forest trails and rocky mountaintops, they and we witness the full, unknowable breadth and vast sweep of life, and the awe inspiring interconnectedness of the world and its many inhabitants, human and otherwise. Martin Marten is a coming of age tale like no other, told in Brian Doyle's joyous, rollicking style"--… (more)

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