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This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western…
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This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind (1978)

by Ivan Doig

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7272012,906 (4.41)130
  1. 50
    A River Runs Through It {story} by Norman Maclean (browner56)
    browner56: Elegiac and beautifully written memoirs of growing up in Montana at the beginning of the last century.
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Whistling Season is one of my all time favorite books and it was the first Ivan Doig book I read. Over the years I have read many more of his books and I just finished The House of Sky. It has moved ahead of Whistling Season! Such an amazing telling of Ivan's life and that of his ancestors and so beautifully written. Loved this book! ( )
  carolfoisset | Aug 22, 2017 |
Doig’s memoir reads like a stunning love letter to the great expanses of Montana and the unique souls it is home to. Painstakingly compiled journal entries, memories, and stories from his now departed father and grandmother, This House of Sky is both poetically gorgeous and heart wrenching. From the early death of his mother to an unpredictable childhood spent ranch hopping with his emotionally damaged sheepherding father to coping as an adult with his father’s downward slide from emphysema, Doig recounts his own youth and that of his father in an honest and unsympathetic, yet honorable way. Stunning imagery of pioneer-era Montana and the changes its ranches have undergone offers an unforgettable backdrop to Doig’s moving literary dedication to his father. ( )
  GennaC | May 9, 2017 |
This memoir was completed in 1978,a few years after Doig lost two of the most important people in his life, his father and his maternal grandmother, who raised him together after his mother died when he was six years old. They are the stars of the story, but Ivan himself figures very prominently in it, as it tells of his own young life under the rugged conditions of mid-20th century Montana ranching and sheep-herding. It is easy to see the seeds of his novels in his own upbringing--and what a harvest he made of it. Doig's gift with the language is priceless...he just drops golden sentences all over the pages, and makes it seem effortless and utterly un-self-conscious. I'm convinced that he talked exactly as he wrote, and that he would have been just as much of a joy to listen to as he is to read. Five stars. ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | Jul 25, 2016 |
Book Description: from Amazon.ca
Ivan Doig grew up in the rugged wilderness of western Montana among the sheepherders and denizens of small-town saloons and valley ranches. What he deciphers from his past with piercing clarity is not only a raw sense of land and how it shapes us but also of the ties to our mothers and fathers, to those who love us, and our inextricable connection to those who shaped our values in our search for intimacy, independence, love, and family.

My Review:
Lyrically and beautifully written, This House of Sky evokes an intimate sense of place in the Montana frontier. Doig’s memories of the characters he meets throughout his peripatetic upbringing – one ranch to the next – are effused with idiosyncrasies and humour. When Doig loses his mother as a young child, the tragedy serves to make the bond between he and his father the more intimate. And after his maternal grandmother is widowed and Lady, as she is always addressed by his father, becomes a permanent staple in their lives – the team of three and the relationship that evolves between them becomes something unforgettable, best described by Doig:

Memory is akin of homesickness, and like homesickness, it falls short of the actualities on almost every count. In the end, I come to think of the wondrous writer Isak Dinesen, when she was taken up in a biplane over the green resplendent highlands of Kenya and arrived back to earth to say, The Language is short of words for the experiences of flying, and will have to invent new words with time. So do I wait for the language of memory to come onto the exact tones of how the three of us, across our three generations and our separations of personality, became something-both-more-and-less-than-a-family and different from anything sheathed in any of the other phrases of kinship. (239)

Highly recommended, particular to those who enjoy a frontier story, historical non-fiction, and an intimate look at the relationships that shape us.
( )
2 vote lit_chick | Jun 10, 2016 |
I finished This House of Sky last night and I am feeling the Montana love. Well, maybe really I'm feeling the Doig love. His use of language is unique and very, very evocative. I felt like I was there with him, his father, and his grandmother through each season of lambing, through the snow storms, though the wide open empty space which is the prairie. I've confessed a desire to have a Doig marathon and read more of his books right now. However, I need to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn which I've never read. It is the next book group book and I'm ready to get it read before the group meets which I've not been able to do for several months now. I feel as if I'm capable of settling down to read. ( )
  maggie1944 | May 24, 2016 |
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"for Stan
from my house of sky to yours"
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Soon before daybreak on my sixth birthday, my mother's breathing wheezed more raggedly than ever, then quieted. And then stopped.
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I glance higher for some hint of the weather, and the square of air broadens and broadens to become the blue expanse over Montana rangeland, so vast and vaulting that it rears, from the foundation-line of the plains horizon, to form the walls and roof of all life’s experience that my younger self could imagine, a single great house of sky.
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Book description
Masterfully crafted with lyrical and haunting language, Doig's memoir remains an enduring classic, a story to be savored by anyone who has ever loved a parent or been shaped by the land around them. This House of Sky is the moving chronicle of Ivan Doig's youth growing up in Montana. At age six, his mother died, leaving his father, rancher and cowboy, Charlie Doig, and maternal grandmother, the stalwart Bessie Ringer, to raise him. Times were hard; work was difficult; poverty always shadowed them. But drawing on their strong love and gritty determination, they find the strength to withstand these difficult circumstances. They are, Doig reflects, relics of an earlier time and a different lifestyle—uncomplaining, unquestioning, accepting the western land with all its hardships and beauty. 336
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156899825, Paperback)

A haunting, magnificently written memoir by Ivan Doig about growing up in the American West

 

Ivan Doig grew up in the rugged wilderness of western Montana among the sheepherders and denizens of small-town saloons and valley ranches. What he deciphers from his past with piercing clarity is not only a raw sense of land and how it shapes us but also of the ties to our mothers and fathers, to those who love us, and our inextricable connection to those who shaped our values in our search for intimacy, independence, love, and family. A powerfully told story, This House of Sky is at once especially American and universal in its ability to awaken a longing for an explicable past.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:49 -0400)

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Autobiography of a newspaperman and editor who grew up in the wilderness of Montana.

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