The Plover

Brian Doyle. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-03477-9
The latest from Oregonian literary luminary Doyle (Mink River) is an uncomfortable mix of nautical exactitude and magical realist plotting. Declan O’Donnell, a middle-aged fisherman in contemporary Oregon with nothing to tie him to the land, decides one day to set out alone across the open ocean in the modified fishing boat Plover. This early section is engrossing, with Declan detailing his preparations, confronting the ocean’s vastness, and going slightly crazy talking to seagulls. The book starts to falter when Declan, visiting the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i for provisions, discovers an old friend, Piko, and Piko’s young daughter, Pipa, waiting to join his crew. Pipa has been left unable to speak after being hit by a school bus but, once aboard, demonstrates an extraordinary ability to communicate with birds. Soon a cast of other eccentrics have joined the crew, spoiling Declan’s hope for solitude, while the ship is put in danger by repeated run-ins with a mysterious pirate trawler. Every sentence Doyle writes about the ocean smacks of authenticity, which makes these additional plot threads seem all the more incongruous. When the novel focuses on Declan and the elements, the results are gripping, but when it strives to be a modern-day South Seas yarn, the results quickly go adrift. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 10/28/2013
Release date: 04/08/2014
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4945-0198-3
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