These Doors presents Timber (Pop. 50), sequestered in the Oregon woods from which few emigrate and fewer want to. In the style of a novel where plot threads unfold chronologically from 1959 to 1983, characters appear and reappear. They remember blackout curtains and their neighbor killed in Pearl Harbor, haggle over clear cutting, mourn fellow loggers killed in the woods, voice curiosity about Chet who shows up from eastern Oregon to extract his son from white man’s land, and are suspicious of the hippies on the old Marshall place who log with mules. They disagree about whether or not the preacher who claims he saw God is crazy and if the ex-con who returns from prison with a new wife killed his old one. But they agree that the Portland transplant who pushes her petitions ‘for the good of Timber’ is a pain in the ass and that the poem over the entry of the Timber Valley Store that says “The best people in the world pass through these doors,” is mostly true.
Marian Mathews Clark grew up in logging country in Mist, Oregon, the only child in a family of chroniclers. Her mother kept a diary from age thirteen until she died at eighty-seven, and her father wrote poetry about sawmilling, logging and the neighbors.
Though she started writing early, Marian didn’t realize it was a career option. So when she graduated from high school in ‘63, she enrolled in Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, and majored in English Education. But after listening to students’ problems as a Resident Assistant and finding student teaching daunting, she concluded she was a one-on-one person and went on to earn a Master’s in Counselor Education from The University of Iowa.
In 1971 she moved back to Lamoni where she assumed the role of Director of Counseling at Graceland and also taught a variety of classes including Counseling, Rhetoric, and a winter term in the Changing Roles of Women. After ten years she decided to pursue writing and in 1985 enrolled in The Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She received her MFA in 1987, the same year she won the Iowa Art Council’s First Place Fiction Award for ‘Houseboats and Peacock Feathers.’
Though she’s lived in Iowa for more than fifty years and calls it home, she’s saved room in her heart for Oregon with its firs and mountains and memories that have formed her. And it’s in that landscape that These Doors was born. As in small towns across the country, in an era when cell phones were science fiction and landline service spotty, the local store whose doors swung wide, was a community’s ears and voice.
2019 O’jai Film Festival finalist with co-writer Patricia Stevens for feature script Timber.
“My Study on Stay-Puts” in Crossing Class: The Invisible Wall Anthology, Wising Up Press, 2018.
Sixty Something and Flying Solo: A Retiree Sorts it Out in Iowa, Culicidae Press, 2013, re-published in a second edition in 2015.
“Getting There,” Daring To Repair Anthology, Wising Up Press, 2012.
“Just in Case: Alone at Christmas,” Wapsipinicon Almanac, December 2011.
“The Last Straw,” The Lamoni Chronicle, December 9, 2010.
“Getting There,” Persimmon Magazine,” Fall 2008.
“The Dress,” Dutiful Daughters Anthology, 1999.
“Just for the Time Being,” A Ghost at Heart’s Edge” Anthology, 1999.
“Buffalos,” Story, Winter 1998.
“My Study on Stay-Puts,” The Sun, Fall 1992.
“Flossie’s Kid,” Cottonwood Magazine, June 1991.
“Houseboats and Peacock Feathers,” Poets and Critic, Sept. 1990 as a result of the Iowa Art Council’s first place Fiction Award.
Echoing Thoreau’s lives of quiet desperation, These Doors illuminates the unbearable sadness of hope. Condemned to small adventures in Timber, Oregon, ‘a low spot socked in by firs,’ we take a gentle journey through The Valley into the circle of its intimate community, the pain of its heart, the redemption of its soul. Written with tough, fragile beauty and savage clarity, using language that manages to be both sparse and luminous, offering deep communion with nature, succinct life lessons and memorable aphorisms, Ms. Clark reminds us of the universality of sorrow and the uplifting power of deferred, hoped-for joy. In the author’s loving hands, I came to care about and have affection for these people. I hurt with these people. I was surprised by the sweetest and softest of tears that came over me almost imperceptibly. These Doors, within whose pages an uncareful moment can ruin a village and a life, where howling ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ can become an uncanny ‘Ode to Joy,’ will lift you, carry you, sustain you, move you. And you will return.
Dr. Douglas W. Larche, author and playwright of Father Gander, Number the Stars, Truth on Trial, and Angels in the Snow; Cabinet-level Director of Cultural Affairs and the Iowa Arts Council for Governor Thomas Vilsack
I love these stories from another time, and these all too human characters as they go about their odd, funny, sad, messy, and interconnected lives in a tiny, isolated community in rural Oregon. Marian Mathews Clark is a fine writer who sees the world with clear eyes and a compassionate heart.
Bart Yates, author of Leave Myself Behind
- Publisher : Culicidae Press, LLC (December 8, 2020)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 216 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1683150228
- ISBN-13 : 978-1683150220
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.54 x 9 inches