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The Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World: A Novel of Robert Louis Stevenson (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

The subtitle of this delightful story is “a novel of Robert Louis Stevenson,” and as soon as you are three pages into the book it truly feels like RLS is speaking to sotto voce so neither of you will miss a word John Carson is saying. Brian Doyle begins with a bit of truth: RLS did live for a time in San Francisco at 608 Bush Street, home of the Carsons. He was waiting anxiously for his sweetheart Fanny to obtain a divorce and split his time between visiting her in Oakland and working on his writing. As this story goes, Robert and John often sat before the fire with a pipe in the evening and there, the old man would spin out tales of traveling the world, having death-defying adventures, and invariably, just before the worst of the story was about to happen, Mrs. Carson would call them into dinner leaving RLS on the edge of his seat. A quick read and one everyone will love, Brian Doyle was a master storyteller.

— From Anne Holman


"An affectionate homage...a loving reconstruction of an era of storytelling now lost." —The New York Times

"[A] triumph...If a writer is going to put on Stevenson’s voice, he’d better, as the poets say, 'bring it.' Reader, Doyle has brought it...Adventures is a tonic for our bitter times." —Washington Post

The young Robert Louis Stevenson, living in a boarding house in San Francisco while waiting for his beloved’s divorce from her feckless husband, dreamed of writing a soaring novel about his landlady’s adventurous and globe-trotting husband—but he never got around to it. And very soon thereafter he was married, headed home to Scotland, and on his way to becoming the most famous novelist in the world, after writing such classics as Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Kidnapped.

But now Brian Doyle brings Stevenson’s untold tale to life, braiding the adventures of seaman John Carson with those of a young Stevenson, wandering the streets of San Francisco, gathering material for his fiction, and yearning for his beloved across the bay. An adventure tale, an elegy to one of the greatest writers of our language, a time-traveling plunge into The City by the Bay during its own energetic youth, The Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World is entertaining, poignant, and sensual.

About the Author

BRIAN DOYLE (1956-2017) was the longtime editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He was the author of six collections of essays, two nonfiction books, two collections of “proems,” the short story collection Bin Laden’s Bald Spot, the novella Cat’s Foot, and the novels Mink River, The Plover, and Martin Marten. He is also the editor of several anthologies, including Ho`olaule`a, a collection of writing about the Pacific islands.

Doyle’s books have seven times been finalists for the Oregon Book Award, and his essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion, The American Scholar, The Sun, The Georgia Review, and in newspapers and magazines around the world, including The New York Times, The Times of London, and The Age (in Australia). His essays have also been reprinted in the annual Best American Essays, Best American Science & Nature Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies.

Among various honors for his work is a Catholic Book Award, three Pushcart Prizes, the John Burroughs Award for Nature Essays, Foreword Reviews' Novel of the Year award in 2011, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2008 (previous recipients include Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O’Connor, and Mary Oliver).

Praise For…

"An affectionate homage...a loving reconstruction of an era of storytelling now lost." —The New York Times

"Rich prose and a unique perspective on one of the world’s most beloved authors...A fine homage to the writing of Stevenson that will suck you into the mind of a working writer." —Publishers Weekly

"A tale of bounding energy with a delicate touch, driving always towards the beautiful and the true." —Helen Garner, author of The Spare Room

“In Brian Doyle's The Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World, a character describes the Bay Area as notable for ‘a certain profligacy of creation.’ That's an apt descriptor for the book itself, a richly layered, altogether enchanting re-imagining of a few months in the life of Robert Louis Stevenson. An homage to the great Scottish writer, a collection of tales both adventurous and romantic, a love letter to San Francisco--it is all of these things. But most of all it is a compelling and profound meditation on the power of stories and story-telling to console and clarify, to carry us out of ourselves, and to connect us each to each in our common humanity. A rare book that is both entirely entertaining and entirely good for you.” —Naomi Williams, author of Landfalls

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250160249
ISBN-10: 1250160243
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2018
Pages: 240
Language: English