Here’s how this week’s arts and culture piece begins:

Brian Doyle (1956 -2017) wrote essays, short stories, memoirs, novels and prose-poem hybrids he called “proems.” His work appeared in “Harper’s,” “Orion,” “The Sun” magazine and, repeatedly, in the “Best American Essays” series.

He won three Pushcart Prizes, was widely anthologized and, after being nominated nine times for the Oregon Book Award, won in 2016 for his novel “Martin Marten.”

He edited “Portland,” the magazine of the University of Portland, for over 25 years, attracting such top-tier writers as Annie Dillard, Pico Iyer, Scott Russell Sanders, and Kathleen Norris. Under his leadership, the publication was consistently ranked among the best university magazines in the country. He’s been called “superhumanly prolific.”

He was also a husband, father of three, and apparently mentor to hundreds.

In November of 2016 he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery for what he referred to as “a big honkin’ brain tumor.” He died in May the next year.



  1. Fr. Rich Jasper says: Reply

    Dear Heather, I write this not to flatter or gain brownie-points, but to simply share that Mr. Doyle and you have been the two contemporary (and I dare say often-mystical) Catholic writers who have traveled with me on my own vocational journey and search for God in the present landscape of modern-day culture. Both of you break open the Kingdom here-and-now, reminding all of us that Christ-Love is ours for the taking and ours for the sharing. Your writing breaks-open our hearts because you allow yours to be be broken-open by our Lord and His Cross. Know that many of us are so very grateful. May your ministry continue to bear much fruit, and may Brian’s words continue to inspire …

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Fr. Rich and Sr. Dorcee, how beautiful to know that two religious find something of value in my work…thank you both for the encouragement and support. Brian, yes, was extremely special. I watched a talk or two of his on YouTube and he was miles away from, say, the Catholic public intellectual type. He was utterly human, funny, open, charming and therefore INTERESTING. Because his person was interesting…It’s incredibly difficult or I should say requires an ongoing leap into the unknown to venture forth as a writer with nothing more than your heart and an insane desire to “break open the Kingdom.” People don’t tend to pay for that kind of thing. They want ten easy things to do for Lent, or an ideology, or a successful platform, or at the very least a charismatic say Professor of Theology which is a beautiful thing, but if your vocation is something even more humble…You go forth without an extra tunic and pair of sandals and pray to God you can make enough money to pay the rent and buy yourself health insurance…I’m no longer living hand to mouth, and am fine in fact better off now than i’ve ever been, especially for my fairly humble “lifestyle.” But Brian did it with KIDS, I think four of them. Edited, wrote his tail off, was a Friend and Mentor. So it’s a special type of vocation and as many of his friends pointed out, he was not as well-known as he could and certainly should have been. But when you make a conscious decision to devote your time and energy to family and/or a small, immediate circle in favor of spending your time and energy creating a social media personality…consumed by all but truly available to none, that’s what happens. “No one has given up land, possessions, fame etc in my name who will not be given back a hundredfold.” So he has a place in heaven, and he lives on here, and I hope ten thousand other places…Thanks for getting how great he was, and for remotely putting me in his category…

  2. Heather, thank you so much for sharing this. I have read some of his other works and will certainly want to read this. I ditto Father Rich’s comments in pointing out the great contribution both of you have been to Catholic writing and providing food for our souls.