From a great American storyteller, a one-of-a-kind father and his precocious son, rocked by a time of change.
Tom Harry has a streak of frost in his black pompadour and a venerable bar called The Medicine Lodge, the chief watering hole and last refuge of the town of Gros Ventre, in northern Montana. Tom also has a son named Rusty, an “accident between the sheets” whose mother deserted them both years ago.The pair make an odd kind of family, with the bar their true home, but they manage just fine.
Until the summer of 1960, that is, when Rusty turns twelve. Change arrives with gale force, in the person of Proxy, a taxi dancer Tom knew back when, and her beatnik daughter, Francine. Is Francine, as Proxy claims, the unsuspected legacy of her and Tom’s past? Without a doubt she is an unsettling gust of the future, upending every certainty in Rusty’s life and generating a mist of passion and pretense that seems to obscure everyone’s vision but his own. As Rusty struggles to decipher the oddities of adult behavior and the mysteries build toward a reckoning, Ivan Doig wonderfully captures how the world becomes bigger and the past becomes more complex in the last moments of childhood.
Jick McCaskill, the illustrious narrator of English Creek, returns as the witty and moving voice in this classic encounter with the American road and all the rewards and travails it can bring. Jick faces his family's—and his state's—legacy of loss and perseverance from the vantage point of Montana's centennial in 1989 when his daughter Mariah enlists him as Winnebago chauffeur to her and her ex-husband, the magnificently ornery and eloquent columnist Riley Wright, when their news-paper dispatches them to dig up stories of the "real Montana." Just as the centennial is a cause for reflection as well as jubilation, the exuberant travels of this trio bring on encounters with the past in "memory storms" that become occasions for reassessment and necessary accommodations of the heart.
In the early 1940s, the starting lineup of Treasure State University’s football team are local heroes. But as America is pulled into World War II, they feel called to become heroes of another kind.
Now, ten of them are scattered around the globe in the war’s lonely and dangerous theaters. The eleventh man, Ben Reinking, has been plucked from pilot training by a military propaganda machine. He is to chronicle the adventures of his teammates, man by man, for publication in small-town newspapers across the country like the one his father edits. Ready for action, Reinking chafes at the assignment—not knowing that it will bring him love from an unexpected quarter and test the law of averages, which holds that all but one of his teammates should come through the conflict unscathed . . .
Ivan Doig grew up in the rugged wilderness of western Montana among the sheepherders and denizens of small-town saloons and valley ranches. What he deciphers from his past with piercing clarity is not only a raw sense of land and how it shapes us but also of the ties to our mothers and fathers, to those who love us, and our inextricable connection to those who shaped our values in our search for intimacy, independence, love, and family. A powerfully told story, This House of Sky is at once especially American and universal in its ability to awaken a longing for an explicable past.
The author of the acclaimed This House of Sky and Mountain Time provides a magnificent evocation of the Pacific Northwest through his exploration of the unpublished diaries of James Gilchrist Swan, an early settler of the region who was drawn there from Boston in the 1850s.
Winter Brothers fuses excerpts from these diaries with author Ivan Doig’s own journal entries, as he travels in Swan’s footsteps one winter along the once-wild coastline of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. What emerges is a remarkable interaction of two minds, a dialogue across time that links the present with the reality of the American frontier.
“Absorbing . . . A double portrait of striking clarity, yet with wonderfully subtle hues.” —San Francisco Chronicle
The witty and haunting narration, a masterpiece of vernacular in the tradition of Twain, follows the events of the Two Medicine country's summer: the tide of sheep moving into the high country, the capering Fourth of July rodeo and community dance, and an end-of-August forest fire high in the Rockies that brings the book, as well as the McCaskill family's struggle within itself, to a stunning climax. It is a season of escapade as well as drama, during which fourteen-year-old Jick comes of age. Through his eyes we see those nearest and dearest to him at a turning point—“where all four of our lives made their bend”—and discover along with him his own connection to the land, to history, and to the deep-fathomed mysteries of one’s kin and one’s self.
Ivan Doig's supple tale of landseekers unfolds into a fateful contest of the heart between Anna Ramsay and Angus McCaskill, walled apart by their obligations as they and their stormy kith and kin vie to tame the brutal, beautiful Two Medicine country.
The final novel from a great American storyteller.
Donal Cameron is being raised by his grandmother, the cook at the legendary Double W ranch in Ivan Doig’s beloved Two Medicine Country of the Montana Rockies, a landscape that gives full rein to an eleven-year-old’s imagination. But when Gram has to have surgery for “female trouble” in the summer of 1951, all she can think to do is to ship Donal off to her sister in faraway Manitowoc, Wisconsin. There Donal is in for a rude surprise: Aunt Kate–bossy, opinionated, argumentative, and tyrannical—is nothing like her sister. She henpecks her good-natured husband, Herman the German, and Donal can’t seem to get on her good side either. After one contretemps too many, Kate packs him back to the authorities in Montana on the next Greyhound. But as it turns out, Donal isn’t traveling solo: Herman the German has decided to fly the coop with him. In the immortal American tradition, the pair light out for the territory together, meeting a classic Doigian ensemble of characters and having rollicking misadventures along the way.
Charming, wise, and slyly funny, Last Bus to Wisdom is a last sweet gift from a writer whose books have bestowed untold pleasure on countless readers.
From the Hardcover edition.
Susan Duff -- the bossy, indomitable schoolgirl with a silver voice from the pages of Doig's most popular work, Dancing at the Rascal Fair -- has reached middle age alone, teaching voice lessons to the progeny of Helena's high society. Wesley Williamson -- business scion of a cattle-empire family -- has fallen from the heights of gubernatorial aspirations, forced out of a public career by political foes who uncovered his love affair with Susan. Years later, Susan is taken off guard when Wes arrives at her door with an unusual request: to train his chauffeur, Monty, in the ways of voice and performance.
Prairie Nocturne is the saga of these three people and their interlocked destinies. Monty is distantly known to Susan from their childhoods in the Two Medicine country, yet an enforced stranger because of the racial divide. When she realizes he possesses a singing voice of rare splendor, Susan joins Wes's Pygmalion-like project to launch Monty on a performing career -- only to find the full force of the Ku Klux Klan in their way. As Monty and Susan overcome treacherous obstacles, Wes's mysterious motives unsettle everyone, including himself, and the trio's crossed fates form a deeply longitudinal novel that raises everlasting questions of allegiance, the grip of the past, and the costs of career and passion.
In the winter of 1920, a quirky bequest draws Morrie Morgan back to Butte, Montana, from a year-long honeymoon with his bride, Grace. But the mansion bestowed by a former boss upon the itinerant charmer, who debuted in Doig’s bestselling The Whistling Season, promises to be less windfall than money pit. And the town itself, with its polyglot army of miners struggling to extricate themselves from the stranglehold of the ruthless Anaconda Copper Mining Company, seems—like the couple’s fast-diminishing finances—on the verge of implosion.
These twin dilemmas catapult Morrie into his new career as editorialist for the Thunder, the fledgling union newspaper that dares to play David to Anaconda’s Goliath. Amid the clatter of typewriters, the rumble of the printing presses, and a cast of unforgettable characters, Morrie puts his gift for word-slinging to work. As he pursues victory for the miners, he discovers that he is enmeshed in a deeply personal battle as well—the struggle to win lasting love for himself.
Brilliantly capturing an America roaring into a new age, Sweet Thunder is another great tale from a classic American novelist.
This novel of audacity is based on a historical incident discovered by the author, and transformed by his imagination into a sustained sweep of adventure. The four sea runners must weather the worst the ill-named Pacific can throw at them, and must weather their own fierce squalls, too, as day upon day, guided as much by instinct and determination as by map, they paddle through the magnificent maze of the Northwest Coast toward the mouth of the Columbia River.
Through the story of each family member—a wrathful father, a mettlesome mother, and three very different sons, and the memorable women they marry—Doig conveys a sense of time and place that is at once epic in scope and rich in detail.
"If America was a melting pot, Butte would be its boiling point," observes Morrie Morgan, the itinerant teacher, walking encyclopedia, and inveterate charmer last seen leaving a one-room schoolhouse in Marias Coulee, the stage he stole in Ivan Doig's 2006 The Whistling Season. A decade later, Morrie is back in Montana, as the beguiling narrator of Work Song.
Lured like so many others by "the richest hill on earth," Morrie steps off the train in Butte, copper-mining capital of the world, in its jittery heyday of 1919. But while riches elude Morrie, once again a colorful cast of local characters-and their dramas-seek him out: a look-alike, sound-alike pair of retired Welsh miners; a streak-of-lightning waif so skinny that he is dubbed Russian Famine; a pair of mining company goons; a comely landlady propitiously named Grace; and an eccentric boss at the public library, his whispered nickname a source of inexplicable terror. When Morrie crosses paths with a lively former student, now engaged to a fiery young union leader, he is caught up in the mounting clash between the iron-fisted mining company, radical "outside agitators," and the beleaguered miners. And as tensions above ground and below reach the explosion point, Morrie finds a unique way to give a voice to those who truly need one.
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