Saturday, May 20, 2017

My Favorite Book, Part 8.

When Ivan Doig died in 2015, we lost one of our best Western authors. Doig wrote a number of books and I’m pretty sure I’ve read them all. Several of them are listed among my favorites, including English Creek, Bucking the Sun, Mountain Time, The Bartender's Tale, and Last Bus to Wisdom.
But the one I find myself re-reading most often is Dancing at the Rascal Fair. It is the middle book of Doig’s trilogy featuring the McCaskill family but, chronologically speaking, it is the first story. Set at the tail end of the nineteenth century in the Two Medicine country of northern Montana, it introduces Angus McCaskill, who emigrates from Scotland with this friend Rob Barclay. It follows the men over some three decades as they build sheep ranches on the Montana frontier. They fight the elements, illness, and, at times, each other.
You’ll find adventure, violence, and romance in the pages of this remarkable book as it presents a realistic, hard-eyed look at life in the frontier West.
If you haven’t read Ivan Doig, it’s not too late to fill the gap.


  1. Rod, I just finished English Creek and loved the worldview of that time period. Thanks for the nudge, I will rustle up this one. Have you heard of Pam Royes' memoir, Temperance Creek? It's pretty dang good, just came out last year from Counterpoint. About her life sheepherding in the Hells Canyon country.

  2. I think you'll enjoy reading about Jick McCaskill's ancestors. Thanks for the recommendation on Temperance Creek. I will check it out.

  3. Thanks for the tip, Rod. I love this quote of his: that he believed that "writers of caliber can ground their work in specific land and lingo and yet be writing of that larger country: life."