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Doig update

July 29, 2010

As per that last post, the Missoula Independent today published my review of Ivan Doig’s new Butte-based novel Work Song. An excerpt (of the review):

Kurt Vonnegut, in his “autobiographical collage” Palm Sunday, recounts his argument with a Russian novelist who felt American writers had failed to produce a truly great novel on par with, say, War and Peace. Maybe so, Vonnegut concedes (though the point’s debatable). But American writers, he counters, have produced something collectively richer: they’ve produced a literature, defining and refining the American experience from a thousand illuminating angles.

Something similar, scaled down, could be said of Butte, Montana. More than all but a few American cities, Butte has generated a collection of writings that—more than any single title probably could hope to—gives color and contour to a town, and an era, and a particularly American exuberance of almost mythic proportions. Montana native (now Seattle resident) Ivan Doig’s new novel Work Song is unlikely to become the need-no-other standard bearer of Butte’s literature, but it’s a welcome addition to the shelf.


One Comment leave one →
  1. October 15, 2010 5:51 pm

    Good review. I liked Work Song, but like you, I thought it missed Butte’s unique brand of jocular friendliness veneered over potential violence. I think Doig is just too nice a guy to get that.

    I had a chance to chat with Doig last night at the annual MSU Libraries Friends dinner. He told me he has two more novels under contract and his next novel will be set in Butte. My guess is the adventures of Morrie Morgan is going to be trilogy.

    I’ve read all of Doig’s books, including the journalism text book he wrote with his wife. He’s at his best when he writes about Montana ranch life, but I’ll be ready to read another Butte novel when it comes out.

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