Brian Doyle

My very first piece of writing I published myself. I wrote in block letters, on the playground of Angelesca Square after a fresh snow fall, huge letters that airplanes could see, these words: MY BEST FRIEND GERALD IS A BASTARD.For some reason (it was 1942) I wanted the Germans, who were coming any minute now to drop bombs on us, to know about Gerald. I'd overheard my parents talking sadly about Gerald being illegitimate and how sorry they felt. I thought if the Germans knew about Gerald and his problem and that he was my best friend they'd turn around and go home and not drop their bombs on us, here in Lowertown, Ottawa, Canada.Of course, they never arrived (such was the power of radio those days) but they were the intended audience of my first sentence. First published sentence.To communicate in clear, written sentences has been my vocation ever since.In the middle of a teaching career I began dabbling in the genre of youthful narration in the tradition of Twain's Huck Finn. At the same time, I met the flower of the flock, the estimable, the eximious, the nonpareil editor and publisher, Patsy Aldana of Groundwood Books.Together we have produced a dozen books and we're still cooking. The books are set in the Gatineau river valley and Ottawa. They are funny and sad! They are read by people of all ages though the narrators are young. The narrators are the age of the child who saw the Emperor's nakedness. They are clear eyed, candid, smart, unsophisticated and inexperienced.The books have multiple layers, resulting in reluctant readers discovering them while elsewhere they are studied in university courses.They have been translated in seven different languages and have been awarded national and international prizes too numerous to list here. They have been adapted to radio, stage and film. I have appeared in twenty performances of our book Angel Square on the stage of the National Arts Centre.There has also been an opera and there's talk of a ballet. I have rinsed out my long-sleeved leotard and am waiting by the phone for the audition call.I spend a lot of time at my cabin in the Gatineau Hills, sometimes with my four grandchildren and their parents, keeping in touch with the trees and the river and the rocks and keeping my ears and eyes open for those Luftwaffe bombers.



Book translations

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