The Bartender's Tale: Book summary and reviews of The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig

The Bartender's Tale

A Novel

by Ivan Doig

The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2012
    400 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Doig gives us a poignant saga of a boy becoming a man alongside a town and a bygone way of life inching into the modern era." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Essential reading for anyone who cares about western literature." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Doig expertly spins out these various narrative threads with his usual gift for bringing history alive in the odysseys of marvelously thorny characters. Possibly the best novel yet by one of America's premier storytellers." - Kirkus Reviews

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Peg Simons

The Bartender's Tale
I have been working my way through all of Doig's books and loved them all, but this was my favorite. Great story, well-developed characters, and writing that hovers on the edge of poetic. Being from the West, I relate to the setting and the language so well.

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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 inspired much of his writing. A former ranch hand, newspaperman, and magazine editor, Doig was the author of 13 novels, most recently The Bartender's Tale, Sweet Thunder and Last Bus to Wisdom (Aug 2015), and four works of nonfiction, including his classic first book, the memoir This House of Sky. He was a National Book Award finalist and received the Wallace Stegner Award and a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western Literature Association, among numerous other honors.

His major theme is family life in the past, mixing personal memory and regional history. The first three Montana novels—English Creek, Dancing at the Rascal Fair, and Ride with Me, Mariah Montana—form the...

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Name Pronunciation
Ivan Doig: iven doig (first syllable of last name rhymes with toy)

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