Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ivan Doig (1939-2015), R.I.P.

If you’ve read anything by Ivan Doig and you’re not an Ivan Doig fan, please call me—you’ve slipped out of our universe and I’d like to help you on your return trip, I’ll just stick out my hand holding one of his books, and you can grab it….

This honest man of Montana died this week. I think he’ll be buried barefoot, because his shoes will be heading to the Smithsonian—no one is going to fill them, that’s for sure.

I came late to the Ivan Doig idiom. I think I read This House of Sky about 20 years ago, a wholly memorable event, it’s one of those “I can’t put it down” books. Doig was a master of investing people into places, and creating places I’d love to see, even if I wouldn’t be strong enough to live in them. Doig’s characters are richly human, profoundly guileless and usually intent on doing the right thing, even when that’s a really hard thing to do….

I read The Bartender’s Tale last summer, a full immersion event as always. I rooted with all my heart for 12-year-old Rusty. The bartender’s son is a magnet for life experiences, he is a perceptive if sometimes innocent observer of what life crams into his young world, he ingenuously feels the first throbs of grown-up sadness, young love, careless aspiration, and fear of life-changing events that he sometimes only clumsily understands. Rusty is the kind of character that Doig understood.

Ivan and Carol Doig

I wouldn’t dare to say that no one can write like Ivan Doig. I’ll knock down the man who says that Ivan Doig wasn’t special. I cherish my memories of reading his masterful stories, and if you’re a fan, too, you know how easily and warmly those memories come to mind.

Ivan Doig (1939-2015), requiescat in pace.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015

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