I’m looking forward to seeing Ivan Doig tonight at the annual Friends of MSU Libraries dinner. I’ve been a fan of Doig’s since the 1980s when I read his marvelous memoir, This House of Sky. Like Ivan, I grew up in Montana ranch country, so I find much to identify with in his work. He got the people, times, and the setting I grew up with right.
I’m sure that Ivan gets other times and settings right. I was so impressed with his novel, English Creek, that I gave it to my mother. Mom came of age during the Great Depression in rural Montana, just like the protagonist of English Creek, Jick McCaskill.
The next time I visited, I asked, “Mom, what did you think of that book I gave you?”
“It was okay,” she said.
“But did he get the times right?” I persisted.
She agreed that he had, but she was still unimpressed.
“He just wrote about things the way they were,” she said.
If I get a chance to talk with Ivan tonight, I’ll tell him that story. I think he’d be amused. At least, I hope so.