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Extended Audio Sample The Bartender’s Tale, by Ivan Doig Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,074 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ivan Doig Narrator: David Aaron Baker Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From a great American storyteller comes the tale of a one-of-a-kind father and his precocious son, rocked by a time of change.

Tom Harry has a streak of frost in his black pompadour and a venerable bar called The Medicine Lodge, the chief watering hole and last refuge of the town of Gros Ventre in northern Montana. Tom also has a son named Rusty, an “accident between the sheets” whose mother deserted them both years ago. The two make an odd kind of family, the bar being their true home, but they manage just fine.

Until the summer of 1960, that is, when Rusty turns twelve. Change arrives with gale force in the form of Proxy, a taxi dancer Tom knew back when, and her beatnik daughter, Francine. Is Francine, as Proxy claims, the unsuspected legacy of her and Tom’s past? Without a doubt she is an unsettling gust of the future, upending every certainty in Rusty’s life and generating a mist of passion and pretense that seems to obscure everyone’s vision but his own.

As Rusty struggles to decipher the oddities of adult behavior and as the mysteries build toward a reckoning, Ivan Doig wonderfully captures how the world becomes bigger and the past becomes more complex in the last moments of childhood.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Highly textured and evocative…Doig gives us a poignant saga of a boy becoming a man alongside a town and a bygone way of life inching into the modern era.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Essential reading for anyone who cares about western literature.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Doig expertly spins out [the] various narrative threads with his usual gift for bringing history alive in the odysseys of marvelously thorny characters…Possibly the best novel yet by one of America’s premier storytellers.”

    Kirkus (starred review)

  • “[An] enjoyable, old-fashioned, warmhearted story about fathers and sons, growing up, and big life changes.”

    Library Journal

  • Selected for the September 2012 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book, August 2012
  • A 2012 Booklist Editors’ Choice Selection for Fiction
  • A 2013 Audie Award Finalist for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Robert Blumenthal | 2/20/2014

    " This is my first excursion into the land of Ivan Doig, and I had such mixed feelings about it. He does a wonderful job of creating very real and down-to-earth characters in a small town in Northwestern Montana in the late 1950s. At times the novel reminded me of a modern-day Mark Twain, a Tom Sawyer for the 21st century. So why only 3 stars? There was an "aw shucks" quality to this novel that wore one me. Expressions that were endearing (e.g., "s of a b") became wearing to be when read over and over. And I had some trouble with the narrative aspects of the book. There were various incidents in the plot where I found myself not really interested in what was going on (fishing, dealing with drunks in the bar, amongst others), and there wasn't enough tension or narrative drive to keep me involved. I felt that if a movie was made of this book, it would be by the Hallmark Channel (not necessarily a bad thing, they do Anne Tyler novels). He does wrap up everything very nicely with emotional satisfaction. The last 20 pages are actually quite compelling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Gilda | 2/6/2014

    " Terrific coming of age story set in the early 60's in Montana and told in the first person by a 12-year-old boy whose father is a bartender; some parallels with fictional twists to The Tender Bar. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Sasha | 1/28/2014

    " Another great book about English Creek, Montana, by Ivan Doig. This made me want to go back and reread the others. Set in 1960, 12-year-old Rusty is on the cusp of a new life--and so is the world, but no one knows it yet. His father is the owner and bartender of the town's favorite bar, and a series of visitors one summer changes everything for Rusty. Rich with Doig's customary array of quirky, powerful characters, and alternately funny and touching experiences, this is just a good yarn. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Kate Boucher | 1/20/2014

    " Very engaging story and wonderful characters. "

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