Work Song: Book summary and reviews of Work Song by Ivan Doig

Work Song

By Ivan Doig

Work Song
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2010,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

An award-winning and beloved novelist of the American West spins the further adventures of a favorite character, in one of his richest historical settings yet.

"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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Charismatic dialogue and charming, homespun characterization make Doig's latest another surefire winner." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Doig delivers solid storytelling with a keen respect for the past and gives voice to his characters in a humorous and affectionate light. Recommend this to everyone you know; essential." - Library Journal

"He nearly loses his footing a time or two here...but on the whole, this is an engaging, leisurely paced look at labor, libraries, and love in a roughneck mining town." - Booklist

"More atmospheric, pleasingly old-fashioned storytelling from Doig (The Eleventh Man, 2008, etc.), whose ear for the way people spoke and thought in times gone by is as faultless as ever." - Kirkus Reviews

"The most tumultuous, quirky, and fascinating city in the American West of the last century has finally found a storyteller equal to its stories. ... Ivan Doig brings to life the core of humanity, and a hell of cast, amidst the shadows and sorrows of Butte, Montana -- a city that could say it never slept well before New York made a similar claim." -Tim Egan, author of The Last Hard Time and The Big Burn

"Butte is by far the most colorful town in Montana, a kaleidoscope of culture, commerce and copper mines, the perfect palette for an artist like Ivan Doig. Work Song doesn't just hum along - its rich authenticity echoes and resonates." - Jamie Ford, author of The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

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Author Information

Ivan Doig Author Biography

Ivan Doig was born in Montana and grew up along the Rocky Mountain Front, the dramatic landscape that has inspired much of his writing. A former ranch hand, newspaperman, and magazine editor, Doig is the author of nine previous novels, most recently The Whistling Season and The Eleventh Man, and three works of nonfiction, including his classic first book, the memoir This House of Sky. He has been a National Book Award finalist and has received the Wallace Stegner Award and a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western Literature Association, among numerous other honors. He lives in Seattle.

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