Currently I'm in the Ivan Doig (Ride With Me Mariah Montana, Dancing at the Rascal Fair) fan club and I'm almost out of books to read. Doig lives in Seattle, but grew up in Montana in the 1940s and 1950s where his father was a ranch hand and sheep rancher. One afternoon as a teen ager, while helping his father and grandmother save two thousand sheep from themselves ahead of a sudden rainstorm, Doig came to the realization that days of endless work for little money was not for him. He went off to college and then grad school at the University of Washington. In 1968, he was my teaching assistant for Washington State History, but that's not why I like his writing.
A frequent description is of the abandoned homestead, silent testimony to some family's admission that Montana was not for everyone.But Doig doesn't stop speaking to me there. He also writes about working and growing up on the farm, or the ranch, or just "the place." That was my dad's life for more than ten years and although we did not live on a place, I was privileged to witness him wrestle with dim-minded sheep, nut and brand cattle, tractor a field with a D-4 Cat, and to listen to him jaw with other farmers about low prices, high water, scissorbills, and yay-hoos. In one particularly memorable (for me) scene, Doig's camp tender (the guy who rode up into the mountains to take summer sheepherders their weekly supplies) used a fork to cook a flawless fried egg over a campfire in a cast-iron skillet. My dad could do that.
So, I am reading Ivan Doig, slowly, carefully. When I finish this book I will have just one more, then I will have to start over or find a new favorite author.