Wednesday, January 16, 2008


English Creek by Ivan Doig

Friday, August 31, 2007
Book Around the States - MONTANA

I bought this book at the Great Salt Lake Book Festival after listening to Ivan Doig discuss his writings and the importance of libraries. (as opposed to finding facts on the internet that aren't always facts) I've had the book for almost a year and found my personal reading challenge was a good way to finally make myself read this book. MAKE MYSELF?? I feel bad that I didn't read it immediately. It is so good. At first the western style of writing put me off, but it meshed so well with the story and the narration, and truly fit the memorable character of Jick McCaskill. Here are a few adages Jick fits into his narrative that tickled me:

"Trouble never travels lonesome."

"I was discovering that, in terms of entertainment, braiding is pretty much like chewing gum with your fingers."

"Life is wide, there's room to take a new run at it."

"By my third afternoon shift of digging, I had confirmed for myself the Two country's reputation for being a toupee of grass on a cranium of rock."

Doig was close to fifty when he wrote this book, but his dead-on portrayal of the humor, sarcasm, curiousity and confusion of an almost fifteen-year-old boy was most impressive. The story covers Jick's life in northwestern Montana during the summer of 1939 as told by Jick many years later. People are still feeling the bite of the Great Depression, but still manage to live rich lives. The main source of conflict is between two of Jick's heroes, his father, Mac, a Forest Service ranger, and his brother, Alec, a cowpuncher, who elects to get married that coming fall instead of attending college. He struggles to understand the dynamics of this conflict and the distance it creates in his family. But there are so many other tales and great characters involved in this novel. Jick gets roped into helping an old drunk friend of the family as he delivers supplies to various sheep camps in the mountains above English Creek with hilarious results. The depiction of the Fourth of July community picnic and late-night square dancing make you long for a more simpler time and place. The hay-hauling incidents brought back less-than-delightful memories for me. And Doig's description of fighting a huge fire in the National Forest before the days of drop-planes was mesmerizing. It's a truly memorable summer for Jick as he delves into the mysteries of relationships and growing up.

"All the people of that English Creek summer of 1939--they stay on in me even though so many of them are gone from life. You know how when you open a new book fo the first time, its pages linger against each other, pull apart with a reluctant little separating sound. They never quite do that again, the linger or the tiny sound. Maybe it can be said that for me, that fifteenth summer of my existence was the new book and its fresh pages. My memories of those people and times and what became of them, those are the lasting lines within the book, there to be looked on again and again. "

There are two more books in Doig's Montana trilogy. One tells the story of Jick's grandparents and the other is about Jick's daughter. I want to read them both. And, of course, "The Whistling Season," the book that first sparked my interest in Doig, is still lingering on my TBR list. As for the BOOK AROUND THE STATES CHALLENGE, "English Creek" is a fantastic illustration of the state of Montana for that era with mouth-watering descriptions of the beauty of the eastern slope of the norther Rockies.

Rating: 5

Posted by Framed at 7:03 PM

Booklogged said...
I don't remember hearing Doig present at the festival. Judging from your review I should have. Are you going to hold on to this one or put it up for mooching? What am I thinking?! I already have too, too many books already waiting to be read. (Still, let me know if you decide to mooch.)

8/31/2007 10:01 PM
Framed said...
Book, You went to a presentation upstairs while Mom and I went to Doig. Sorry, but this is an autographed copy so I won't be mooching it. But you can borrow it if you'd like.

9/01/2007 7:38 AM
gautami tripathy said...
Can I borrow it too?!!


9/01/2007 8:10 AM
Tristi Pinkston said...
It sounds great -- I'll put it on my TBR.

9/01/2007 11:57 AM
Framed said...
Sorry, gautami, I know where to find Booklogged. But I noticed Amazon has used copies for sale at a reasonable price. I highly recommend it.

Tristi, when do you find time to write with all the reading?

9/01/2007 8:14 PM
Jeane said...
My mother was always a fan of Doig but I never read him. Did you find it a slow start getting into the book?

9/02/2007 7:38 AM
adam said...
Hi, this is not so related to your page, but it is the site you asked me 1 month ago about the abs diet. I tried it, worked well. Well here is the site

9/02/2007 1:31 PM
Framed said...
Jeane, it didn't take very long to get into. Mainly because Doig is so humorous.

Adam, I didn't go anywhere when I clicked on the link. Could be my computer. But thanks anyway.

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