Writing is a Time Machine: Brian Doyle

May 20, 2013 § 10 Comments


Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle discusses the genesis of his essay, “Sachiel the Tailor,” found in the May 2013 issue of Brevity:

And where did Sachiel come from, you ask? I kid you not, from a hole in my excellent ancient beloved perfectly worn green cotton shirt, which yawned and grinned and gaped at me one morning, and made me sigh, and I took it to my excellent tailor Miss Choi, but in the doing so up rose Sachiel in memory, Sachiel who may have survived the Catastrophe but did not want to talk about it, Sachiel who did not move from his stool in his tiny storefront on Chauncy Street in Boston, Sachiel who would accept your goods laid on his countertop while you stared fascinated into the welter of the shop behind him filled to overflowing with needles and pins and thread and scraps and bolts of cloth and scissors and shears and poles with hooks with which he perhaps reached things high on the walls, though you never saw him move from his stool to do so; yet a day later there would be your goods, perfectly repaired, for quite a reasonable fee also, not to mention the chance to listen to Sachiel. He was an enormous man. He wore white shirts with dark vests. He had a broad face. When he appeared in my memory I could then hear his voice again, and feel the slicing wind down that narrow little street, and so I begin to type, and time is transcended, and space, and loss, and this is one of those sweet powerful holy things about writing that we do not talk enough about, I think; writing is a time machine, writing resurrects, writing gives death the finger. And so amen.

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He is the author of many odd books, notably the sprawling serpentine sinuous Oregon novel Mink River.

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