Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Bartender's Tale; Ivan Doig


Author:  Ivan Doig
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Edition: eGalley and audiobook
Reader: David Aaron Baker (excellent)   
Source: Edelweiss and Library(audio)
Setting: Montana
Date Completed: October/2012
Rating: 5/5 
Recommend: yes

The Bartender's Tale is a tender coming of age story set in beautiful, rural, Gros Ventre, Montana in 1960.  As the story begins, the young narrator Rusty Harry has been living a miserable life in Phoenix, Arizona with his father's sister, Aunt Marge. Rusty is constantly being tormented by his older cousins.  One day Rusty is rescued by his single father Tom Harry, and he is taken from Arizona back to Montana where Tom runs the Medicine Lodge saloon.  Although they get off to a rocky start but before long it's obvious that Rusty's life has changed for the better.

Rusty doesn't have any real friends until, Zoe, the daughter of the new diner owner moves into town.  They become best friends and spend their after school times in a room above the saloon doing homework, and learning about real life through a hidden peep-hole vent that looks into the saloon. From that vantage point the two get a crystallized view of what adults talk about and the messes they can often get themselves into.

The Bartender's Tale is one of the best stories I've listened to this year. The reader, David Aaron Baker is fantastic and makes for a captivating novel.  What makes this story so special is that it beautifully captures how I imagined small town life to be in the early 1960s. The sense of place was warm, friendly, and yet not without problems, yet the beauty of Montana shines through and through.  The author is a master at letting you get to know his characters, and by the end, making you feel like they've been people you've known for many years.  Rusty was an awesome narrator for a 12 year old - perceptive, curious and I especially enjoyed watching him discover skeletons in hist father's closet along the way.  At times I felt like a voyeur in this saloon as Rusty, Zoe and I watched the goings on through the floor vent above.

Add to all this, an old fashioned, clean story about a single dad and his son, an interesting historian by the name of Delano Robertson who cruises into town to interview Tom and stays for the summer, a woman from Tom's past and her daughter, and rural life in Montana comes alive.

An old fashioned story that you'll long remember, do yourself a favor and read this special book. Although this is my first experience reading anything by Ivan Doig, it won't be my last. 

20 comments:

  1. Sounds like one I should add to my audio list. I've read one of Doig's previous novels and really enjoyed it! Thanks for the rec, Diane.

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  2. Sounds like a great book made even better by a great narrator.

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  3. I love stories set during that time period. It sounds like audio is the way to go with this one.

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  4. I need to make sure my brother reads this one.

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  5. I like the setting and time period. Glad you enjoyed it so much!

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  6. Oh, this does sound like something that I would really like, and I love the way that you describe the pleasure that you had while reading this as voyeuristic pleasure. Often those are the best types of reads for me. Very nice review today!

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  7. Well, gosh, I definitely need to read this! I can totally relate with the "get me out of Arizona" sentiment! LOL And I love settings in the High Plains. And finally, who can resist that author's name? It would be rewarding enough just to be able to say to someone, "I'm reading a book by Ivan Doig." LOL

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  8. oh, this does sound like a good one!

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  9. Sounds wonderful. I've seen it around but it's never caught my eye before.

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  10. I'd love to read this one. I really can't resist the setting of Montana!

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  11. I had never heard of this one, but your review makes me curious. The setting sounds good!

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  12. If you're going to do more Doig, go for 'The Whistling Season!' My mom and I listened to it on a drive to Wyoming a few years ago and it's what converted me into a diehard audio fan. I'm so glad to hear this one is good - I'd love to listen to another one of us books.

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  13. This sounds great. I almost wish I drove more so I could listen to books on tape.

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  14. This one sounds excellent! I will add it to my TBR list!

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  15. I have this on my TBR list. So happy to see a 5/5! I have The Whistling Season on my iPod, but haven't gotten to it yet. You've encouraged me.

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  16. I like the sound of this book. I have read 'This House of Sky' which was brilliant. I have never liked audio books, I tend to fall asleep, but I think I might give this one a try.

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  17. Holy moly...5/5 has my attention and I'm pretty sure I'm going to purchase it from audible . I have 1 credit left!!

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  18. I'm a sucker for a Midwestern coming of age tale. I'm definitely adding this one to my list!

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  19. My mom has read most of Doig's books and I have a few on my shelves, but have never given him a try. I have the ARC of this and after seeing your 5/5 rating, I'm going to have to move it to my nightstand! Did you read his Whistling Season? I think that's the title. That's another I want to read.

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