What is the summary for Mink River by Brian Doyle?

Expert Answers
Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As Doyle's first fictional novel, we are introduced here to his very poetic (and often Gaelic) style as we learn about a little town on the coast of Oregon called Neawanaka containing the memorable Mink River. The original edition contains a crow on the cover because that is how the reader is introduced to the characters: as the crow flies. We fly from house to house and area to area learning about the interesting personalities that make Neawanaka the small town that it is.

No sugar, please, just black--Oregon Coffee.

This is probably the best quotation to describe the intimacy we see here.  There are many, many characters and the book is written episodically so that we can experience the most meaningful (and sometimes heartbreaking) events that affect the people in Neawanaka.

Many of the characters make quite an impression. For example, Daniel is 12 and wears three braids of different colors, but his amazing story involves an accident on his bike and his rescue by a bear. "Worried Man" is a more ethereal empath who is able to sense the pain of others. Other episodes involve a threatened police officer who loves to listen to Puccini, a very quiet cigarette-smoking doctor, a logger who can't stop talking, a crow who can talk, and the Mink River that tells us about its journey. Even businesses tend to take on personalities, such as the Department of Public Works (prone to counting insects and providing haircuts). We learn about the love affairs of the people in the town as well as their unstoppable tragedies. 

In conclusion, it is safe to say that we experience the most raw and intimate moments of this small Oregon town. The way it is written mimics poetry. We are meant to share in the sadness and happiness of all the people in each of its memorable episodes.