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The Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World
Cover of The Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World
The Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World
A Novel of Robert Louis Stevenson

"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 in the 19th century 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.

"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 in the 19th century 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.

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About the Author-
  • BRIAN DOYLE (1956-2017) was the longtime editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He is 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).

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 30, 2017
    If fans of Robert Louis Stevenson want to read Doyle’s latest novel, they should not be misled by the word “adventures” in the title. The book is actually a subtle contemplation, told through the eyes of a young Stevenson, as he passes a year at a boarding house in San Francisco. There he waits for his sweetheart to divorce her unfaithful husband, earning money for his future wedding by writing. His favorite inspiration is the owner of the boarding house, Mrs. Carson, and her husband, Mr. John Carson. As he listens to their tales of traveling the world, he reflects on his life, his future, and the kind of writer he wants to be. Readers looking for a thrilling adventure story would be better off rereading Kidnapped or Treasure Island, but, as Doyle’s Stevenson narrates, he is aware of the quietness of his story and is not afraid of drawing attention to it. While the book could perhaps have a more apt title, anyone looking for rich prose and a unique perspective on one of the world’s most beloved authors will enjoy Doyle’s characterization. A fine homage to the writing of Stevenson that will suck you into the mind of a working writer.

  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2017
    A young Robert Louis Stevenson is regaled by his landlord in tales of high adventureFor a few months in 1879-1880, the scrappy, sickly "writer of slight essays" Robert Louis Stevenson resided at the boardinghouse of Mrs. Mary Carson on Bush Street in San Francisco while awaiting the liberation of his beloved Fanny from a cruel marriage so that she might marry him, despite her greater age and the disapproval of his parents. From these slight facts, Doyle (The Kind of Brave You Wanted to Be, 2016, etc.) has spun a yarn composed of the spun yarns of another, those told by Stevenson's landlady's husband, John Carson, a seafaring man adept at telling a tale--"when John Carson told a story you were soon inside the story yourself"--as Carson tells stories and Stevenson drinks them in, sitting by a fire in the parlor, awaiting the fine dinners of Mrs. Carson. From tracking and rescuing a kidnapped boy in the jungles of Borneo to encountering a stalwart girl who is the only surviving inhabitant of a stone village in Ireland to bringing to refuge a fragile chaplain shattered by what he witnessed in the American Civil War, the kind and brave Carson has earned his narrative authority. He feeds young Stevenson's appetite for tales as Mrs. Carson feeds his threadbare body. Both Carsons guide the "capering boy inside the illusion of maturity" as Stevenson devours all they have to offer. In Doyle's deft hands, we are shown how the Carsons influence the young Stevenson to appreciate and explore his own gifts as a storyteller and to contemplate the reward he might find in writing adventurous tales of his own. From them, he learns "about the nature and power of stories...about how stories actually shape our lives." An accomplished writer celebrates the nascent inspiration of a legendary one in this tender, affectionate, and terribly fun homage to the joys of storytelling and storytellers.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A Novel of Robert Louis Stevenson
Brian Doyle
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