A Burst of Books

New books and old favorites in fresh format arrive in a bunch in this season of Ivan's literary output.

The top headline, fittingly, goes to his latest novel, Sweet Thunder, the further adventures of encyclopedic scamp Morrie Morgan begun in The Whistling Season and Work Song. In its very first review, Sweet Thunder garnered this accolade from the American Library Association's prestigious Booklist:

"Think Shane but with dueling journalists instead of gunfighters."

Simultaneously, last year's national bestseller, The Bartender's Tale, arrives in paperback. Booklist chose this novel of bartender Tom Harry and the pair of imaginative twelve-year-olds orbiting around him, Rusty and Zoe, as one of the year's ten best historical works of fiction, along with the likes of Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies and Nobel Prizewinner Mario Vargas Llosa's The Dream of the Celt.

The schedule of Ivan's bookstore appearances for these new arrivals and contact information for the stores follows this listing, in the Sweet Thunder debut material.

In what might be called an e-flurry, nine Doig titles, including several of his most popular, are now available as e-books, completing electronic availability of Ivan's entire list. The e-book newcomers:

English Creek
Dancing at the Rascal Fair  
Ride With Me, Mariah Montana
Bucking the Sun 
Prairie Nocturne

Heart Earth
The Sea Runners
Mountain Time
Winter Brothers

Last but not least, Recorded Books has reissued the bestselling audio version of A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean's classic story of fishing and family, read by Ivan. Winner of an Audie--the spoken literature field's equivalent of an Oscar--this unabridged narrative was summed up by reviewer Carol McCabe this way:

"The book is read by Maclean's friend, writer Ivan Doig, whose western voice seems to pick the words off the page and carry them reverently through the forests and creeks."

Information about all these await you here on the website. Enjoy the browsing, and happy reading.

Sweet Thunder

Sweet Thunder

The lure of the American West, this time in the form of a quirky bequest, once again draws Morris Morgan to that “Richest Hill on Earth” and the brawling city of Butte. Morrie and his bride, Grace, alight back into the cauldron of trouble between miners and the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, the Wall Street giant that has made Montana its fiefdom. As surely as day follows night, Morrie’s manifold talents as a wordslinger, spoken and otherwise, are tapped by the fledgling union newspaper, the Thunder,  enlisting his “walking encyclopedia” knowledge not only to write hilariously scathing editorials under a pen name against Anaconda and its kept press, but as the newsroom “morgue” of information. (“Hey, Morgie, who invented the guillotine?”)

With its rush of deadlines and journalistic cast of unforgettable characters amid the clatter of typewriters and jangle of telephones, the novel at one level is a love song to daily newspapers, where author Ivan Doig begin his writing career. At another level, Sweet Thunder  is a domestic romp of Shakespearean proportions, with the confusions of identity as Morrie, Grace, a pair of aged miners with a penchant for expressing themselves in Welsh, and the titanic book-mad librarian, Sam Sandison—aka “the Earl of Hell”—all inhabit a Horse Thief Row mansion threatening to fall down over their ears.

In yet another sense, this novel is a high-spirited, inventive, but historically acute portrait of a conflicted America roaring into the Twenties with Gilded Age antagonisms and Red Scare jitters still on its mind. Through it all, with mortal consequences looming if he slips up, Morrie must use his wits to elude the precipitous situations that somehow seek him out and chase him.

While masterfully fresh in its approach, this third in the trilogy of tales featuring the nimble wordsmith adds, to the compassionate resolution of the Whistling Season and its one-room school and the redemptive anthem of Work Song and its polyglot community of miners, a bold declaration of identity and coming to grips with the who we—as American, as individuals, and as lovers of treasured books—are and wish to be.

To Read a Review, Click a Link Below

“Charming…delightful…evocative…another entertaining slice of hardscrabble history.”

Portland Oregonian
“Ivan Doig is one of the finest novelists writing today…Doig knows how to spin a tale, and he does so here with wonderful language that flows effortlessly from his rich and diverse characters that show humor…and sorrow. Despite the grittiness of Butte and some of its inhabitants, "Sweet Thunder" floats above all that because of the intellectual elegance of Morrie and his friend Sandy, and after finishing this fine novel, one just wants more.”

The Bartender's Tale

Available in paperback August 20, 2013

Bartenders Tale

The Bartender's Tale is the story of a father and son left on their own in a shifting world--a tale in itself as old as kinship, but ever new in the way "the bachelor saloonkeeper with a streak of frost in his black pompadour and the inquisitive 11year-old boy who had been an accident between the sheets" go about life in the small Montana town of Gros Ventre in 1960.

Tom Harry, the nonpariel bartender and proprietor of the "nearly holy oasis," the Medicine Lodge, has a past he won't talk about and a habit of sudden disappearances for a few days, which plagues his impressionable son, Rusty, as does the unexplained absence of his mother ever since he was born.  In their otherwise companionable bachelor life together, Rusty has free run of the saloon's fantastic back room.  And in the momentous summer that is the heart of the novel, he shares this secret aperture into the often mystifying world of grownups with Zoe, the new girl down the street whose imagination outdoes even his own amid the wonders of the back of the saloon.

History, as it tends to do, arrives to these prime characters with gale force, first in the person of enthusiastic young oral historian Del Robertson and then in the shapely form of Proxy, an unforgettable taxi dancer in Tom's earlier fabled saloon in a Fort Peck dam boomtown.  Proxy comes bearing life-changing news, of the sort that leaves Rusty and Zoe marveling at what grownups get themselves into. 

The tale unfolds in Rusty's richly reminiscent voice, leading to the climax where a catastrophe delivers them all trials of conscience.  In sum, this is a warmhearted yet consequential family saga in the spirited storytelling tradition of William Faulkner's The Reivers and Isak Dinesen's Winter's Tales.


To View and Listen

To Read a Review, Click a Link Below

8-22-2012: From the Daily Beast, "The New Wallace Stegner: Ivan Doig’s ‘The Bartender’s Tale’ "

9-4-2012: From the Associated Press, "Doig Spins a Masterful 'Bartender's Tale' "

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