A Shimmer of Something: Lean Stories of Spiritual Substance

by Brian Doyle

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.



Books like this are heartwarming and draw the read to a story that is similar to one’s own everyday life. A Shimmer of Something includes prose poems, chants, litanies, simple songs, cadenced prayers, brief bursts of rhythmic observations, elegies to little moments that are not little at all. This book welcomes you to the melodic world of Brian Doyle’s poems, swirling with voice unreeling tales, souls telling stories, moments photographed with ink. Accessible, easy to read, blunt, brief and sometimes unforgettable, “these are not poems’ says the author “but life set to the music of poetry.”


In a Shimmer of Something, Brian Doyle’s characteristic humor and sincerity combine to make this collection a delight to read. From his conviction that miracles breed ripples that do not cease, to his lack of faith about the life of an elderberry bush, to the amusing story of a friend’s experience of driving the Dalai Lama to Seattle, to the humorous experience of his second confession, to an intimate story of love and loss, Doyle’s lean stories of spiritual substance inspire, entertain, and captivate. There are wonderful stories and poems that can be used at weddings and other occasions.


Brian Doyle is the editor of the University of Portland’s award-winning Portland Magazine and the author of many books, among them the spiritual essay collections including works in U.S.Catholic, First Things, Christian Century, America and The Atlantic Monthly. The book is a great one to read and then have on your shelf!