engaging voice. And in this book—the voice is perfection.
been thinking someday I’d read something by Ivan Doig.
|(photo credit: Library of Congress)|
Fourteen-year-old Jick McCaskill narrates this story, and he is a
completely likeable young fellow. And the world sometimes mystifies him, the
way the world does when a person’s fourteen. His older brother is defying their
parents by working at a land baron’s ranch and then getting himself engaged,
and that’s stirring things up. Plus Jick is starting to get the sense that his
parents are actual people, and that
they had lives before he showed up on the scene. And that’s always a
in the midst of the Great Depression, Jick is growing up. “Frankly, high among
my hopes about the business of growing up was that I would get a considerably
more substantial horse out of it.” (pp. 14-15)
questions—about his brother and the new tension in the family, about how his
parents met, about their younger years, about the forest ranger who preceded
his father in the job and why he fell from grace—and he hardly knows how to
liked. Here are two examples:
to the next.” (p. 40) Man, if that ain’t true.
you usually gallivant around with. But suppose I could have this dance with you
showed about her. She cast a look toward the top of my head as if just
realizing my height. Then came her sidelong smile, and her announcement:
characters are just plain interesting,
found out part of the reason why: Doig says that he found it easy to write in
Jick’s voice, and he mentions that he had decades’ worth of file cards of
phrasing and dialogue. In the Acknowledgments, he writes, “Thus it is very
nearly forty years now that I have been listening to Montanans.” (p. 337)
to their voices, too. The results are splendid.