God Laughs and Plays

Churchless Sermons in Response to the Preachments of the Fundamentalist Right

Author's note: God Laughs & Plays is temporarily out of print, but I’m deep into a new collection of contemplative and spiritual writings that will also include updated versions of the best of G L & P

Bill McKibben in Resurgence: “This is the book for everyone who is allergic to what often passes for Christianity but attracted to Jesus. Beautifully written and wonderfully, humorously, deeply felt... Duncan is a scandal both to the institutional church and to secular snobs: a truly dangerous man.” 

Christian Century: “This is a basic text for anyone who has the slightest interest in the revolutionary and paradoxical words and acts of Yeshua ben Joseph… Christians of every stripe should pause and read this startling and refreshing voice from beyond orthodoxy and religious politics.”

Brother David Steindl-Rast: “Beware: David James Duncan is a mystic — unabashedly so. And in reading this book… you may well discover your own mystic consciousness. The world’s future depends on this consciousness, and you will find it shining forth from every page.”

Bloomsbury Review: “This book could be thought of as the short-subject version of how to live fearlessly in scary times… Duncan inspires readers to look at all the shades of dark and light, depth and surface, beauty and ugliness, entering a broader consciousness and renegotiating the limited contract that is mortal life.” 


The Brothers K

The Wall Street Journal: “The Brothers K is the baseball entry in The Best Book Ever Written contest.” “The Brothers K is the Great American Novel you haven’t read.”

Booklist: “Laugh-out-loud funny throughout, yet The Brothers K does what a novel should do, what one almost despairs of contemporary fiction ever doing: it teaches you something, makes you think, breaks your heart, and mends it again.”

San Jose Mercury News: “At 645 pages this is a remarkably short book. Half the time I was reading I was laughing—once so hard I fell off my chair—and almost as often I was gripped with rage or on the verge of tears... No work of fiction has entertained me so richly in a decade—no movie, no play, no other contemporary novel. And I don't even like baseball much.”


The River Why

People: “A small national treasure.”  

The New York Times: “A whirlwind, madcap, humorous and sensitive novel.” 

Western Coast Review of Books: “The best thing to come out of Oregon since Nike running shoes.”

Publisher’s Weekly: “Done in a high-velocity, exuberant style, sprawling in scale, heedless of form, the feeling for and evocation of the imperiled natural world is rhapsodic in its intensity; the writing energetic, literary in a distinctly American way... So amiable is the prevailing tone that the flowing narrative is able to absorb Koranic and Eastern mysticisms, Tao, Sufism, Zen—the religions of oneness and gospel of love—without turning into the kind of maudlin choral chanting that so often disfigures treatments of fusion of self and the world.”


River Teeth

Publishers Weekly: “These vignettes are first-person, succinct, and uniformly powerful... Marvelous nuggets mined from a complex, absurd and magical life.”

Booklist: “Simultaneously lyrical and vernacular prose, vivid description, hilarious action, spirited movement and poignant observation... Duncan deftly characterizes modern life and American culture—our fears, desires and drives—revealing in these exquisite vignettes and tales all that shapes a life.”

The Oregonian: “The mingling of fiction and nonfiction raises interesting questions about the line between autobiography and fiction, and how the writer gives shape to both his life and his art by using the same core material. Duncan’s core material is... the almost miraculous capacity of his family feeling to absorb, endure and make sense of any grotesquery, any challenge, the torrent of life's hidden currents... This is a moving, powerful book, filled with Duncan’s great virtues as a writer—his warmth and wild humor, his sparkling prose style, his deep humanity.”


My Story as Told by Water

Jim Harrison: “This book is the Desert Solitaire for water.”

The Oregonian: “For all its focused fury, My Story as told by Water is ultimately about the many forms and faces of love.” 

Bellingham Herald: “Imagine Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” as an environmental essay.”

Deseret Utah News: “This isn’t a book for anyone but deep readers and thinkers. Also, there’s some profanities.”

Judges’ citation, 2001 National Book Awards: “Duncan’s reflections on rivers, salmon, the lands of the West and the earth itself spill off the page with wit, wisdom, and occasional fury. My Story as Told by Water is an education. Like fast water, the lively, trenchant prose pushes and spins, engages and agitates in the tradition of America’s finest essayists.”


Heart of the Monster

Why the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies Must Not Become an Exxon Mobile Conduit to the Alberta Tar Sands - with Rick Bass

Author note for The Heart of the Monster:  A rapid response nonfiction book by DJD and Rick Bass, researched, photographed and written in seven weeks (!) and produced in less than three months in a race to protect the Columbia, Snake, Clearwater, Bitterroot, Big Blackfoot and other rivers from Exxon Mobil and the Alberta Tar Sands, published by All Against the Haul, 2010.

Doug Peacock: “One of the greatest pieces of 'crazy fast writing' ever published.”

Barry Lopez: “What David Duncan, Rick Bass, and their colleagues have done with The Heart of the Monster knocked me across the room. They have breathed fire into a worldwide effort to make Big Oil, Big Ore, and Big Government accountable, to bring them to bay.” 

Terry Tempest Williams: “David Duncan and Rick Bass have raised their pens as swords and taken on the megalords with their megaloads associated with the tar sands fantasy, a nightmare too close, too real for comfort. May we not only sit still and read this landmark book but rise up in outrage and indignation. This act of writing is an act of civil resistance through brilliant storytelling.” 

Flyfish Journal: “The Heart of the Monster gives off luminous smoke... Two of America’s most powerful writers at their most impassioned, articulate, and raw.” 

Brian Doyle: “I read the whole thing this morning and cried. The photos alone are horrifying. There are so many forms of rape and living things that get raped. The only way this can be stopped is if enough people digest the facts and then roar like epic bears. Here are the facts. Cue the roaring.”