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The Bartender's Tale

Doig, Ivan (Book - 2012)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Bartender's Tale
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From a great American storyteller, a one-of-a-kind father and his precocious son, rocked by a time of change. 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.
Authors: Doig, Ivan
Title: The bartender's tale
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, c2012.
Characteristics: 387 p. ;,24 cm.
Local Note: 6 9 15 16 29 35 53 60 74 109 118 122 133 138 148 152 167 173 182 193 198 203 205 210 211 216 222 226 231 245 264 280
ISBN: 1594487359
9781594487354
Statement of Responsibility: Ivan Doig
Subject Headings: Montana Fiction. Life change events Fiction. Bars (Drinking establishments) Fiction. Fathers and sons Fiction.
Topical Term: Life change events
Bars (Drinking establishments)
Fathers and sons
LCCN: 2012017498
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Dec 11, 2013
  • NBLibGirl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Another fabulous story set in a particular time and place in Montana. Love Doig's voice in all his stories. Listened to this one and the audio production was excellent.

A wonderful period piece. The setting descriptions bring you right in to Montana 1960. Mr. Doig as usual is a wonderful story teller and character inventor. It flows like the Missouri river -- with great falls, twists and turns, and constantly moving in a languid summer in Montana sort of way.

Jun 21, 2013
  • candle rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

I absolutely loved this book and as a result started reading his other books, such as his trilogy about Montana.

I enjoyed this slow-moving tale--the way it is told, the fact that it needs no violence or great conflict to keep the reader interested. Mr. Doig is a remarkable storyteller and observer of the human dimension.

Mar 16, 2013
  • JimLoter rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I found it somewhat difficult to get through this book. The pace picked up somewhat about halfway through and the periodic introduction of new characters injected some life back into it at times. It's a very episodic tale with nothing much at stake and no significant conflicts, which rather mirrors the lazy and tranquil rural Montana setting.

It's fundamentally a story about relationships - between a father, the titular bartender Tom, and his 12-year-old son, Rusty; Rusty and a local girl, Zoe; and all of them with some newcomers from the father's past - Proxy (the former taxi dancer) and her (and quite possibly his) daughter, Francine. I enjoyed the early depictions of the father-and-son interactions - how they sized each other up and grew to get to know each other - but the relationship seemed to stop developing once the other characters started showing up. The relationship between Rusty and Zoe was a little more contrived, and Zoe herself tended to be a "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" cliché. Overall, the tone of the writing rang rather false with me - especially the dialog, which was often contrived and overly clever. It bothered me that all the characters spoke alike - Tom and Rusty, sure, but also the newcomers Zoe and Francine ... and even the elderly sheepherder, Canada Dan. All shared a common rhythm, vocabulary, and idiom. Magnifying this was the rather too-convenient appearance of a Library of Congress linguist, Delano, whose project is to capture and record the "authentic" patois of the area's residents - and ends up even more conveniently staying. In that regard, Delano felt more like a mere function of the story than an authentic character - he seemed to exist to justify the fact that everyone spoke in hackneyed platitudes and bromides, and that all this was somehow "historic" and worthy of preservation. This was my first Ivan Doig read, and I'm not so turned off as to not try some others - especially since he's a local boy here in Seattle - but this one was not for me.

Dec 08, 2012
  • sixtyfive rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a wonderful novel with true to life details of northern Montana. The setting of the book is great, the story line is superb, the writing is excellent. It is a great read in every way.

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