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Extended Audio Sample The Bartender’s Tale Audiobook, 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: August 2012 ISBN: 9781464048265
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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 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 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 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 Kate Boucher | 1/20/2014

    " Very engaging story and wonderful characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Viccy | 1/19/2014

    " Rusty was "an accident between the sheets" who lives with his aunt until he is six and his father swoops down from Montana to take him off to live over his saloon in Gros Ventre called "The Medicine Lodge." In 1960, Rusty's life changes dramatically. Proxy, a taxi dancer, Rusty's dad knew long ago, and her daughter Francine arrive at the Medicine Lodge. Rusty struggles to decipher the adults around him and comes to terms with the oddities of adult behavior. The pace of the book is slow and deliberate and the reader watches as Rusty's world becomes bigger and more complex than he ever thought it could be. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Constance | 1/12/2014

    " The son of Two Medicine County bartender and a mom who left when he was a baby, Rusty spent his fist six years in Arizona with his aunt's family, tormented by his older cousins. Then his larger-than-life father arrives and claims him, whisking him to sheep country Montana and the legendary Medicine Lodge with its magical backroom/museum filled with all manner of items traded for another few drinks. The story focuses on one pivotal summer in 1960 when Rusty is twelve and meets his best friend, meets his half sister and her taxi-dancer mother, saves someone's life, and has a breakthrough fishing experience, along with much else. A sound archivist from the Library of Congress provides a deeper level to this very atmospheric novel and is one of many well-developed, nuanced, and interesting characters. Doig's use of regional and historical language and expression is an entertainment in itself. The friendship between Rusty and Zoe deftly captures an intimacy that creates a unique, shared view of the world which can be tempered and enjoyed by bits from their favorite movies. The subtle portrait of humble Tom who is not demonstrative with his emotions, yet evokes so much emotion is masterful. When Rusty's father decides to put the Medicine Lodge up for sale, the reader feels as devastated as Rusty. Finishing this novel gave me the same feeling as the end of summer always does, I just wanted it to go on and on. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dawn Leger | 1/8/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it as a very well told story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Micki | 1/7/2014

    " What a great yarn!! I just loved the characters in this book. They are so life-like. When are they ever going to make a movie from one of Doig's books? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Missives From | 1/1/2014

    " A lovely study of relationships. It ended well. I've never read this author before, but I would definitely choose more books by him. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 1/1/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book. Here is my favorite quote, "All we had to live up to was for each of us to do half the laughing." - Rusty speaking about his new best friend Zoey. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gretchen | 12/14/2013

    " I enjoyed this author very much. He has a great writing style, is funny, and his story moved along very nicely. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jan | 9/12/2013

    " A wonderful story, great characters, beautiful writing "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marye Jayne | 7/27/2013

    " A great coming of age story about a young boy living with his bartender father. A wonderful cast of characters. I really enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ginnie | 7/2/2013

    " The story started very slow, but it got better once you got into it. Book club book for Jan. 2013. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annscm Perrigo | 5/12/2013

    " This is the first book by Doig I've had the pleasure to read, but I'm sure there will be more! Wonderful story of a 12-year-old boy piecing together the story of his father's past. Filled with memorable characters and lively descriptions of Rusty's life in 1960 Montana. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Trexsue | 5/4/2013

    " Classic Doig - maybe a little more upbeat than the earlier novels. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susie Johnson | 4/29/2013

    " My first Ivan Doig story....what a treat, knowing there are so many more to read! What a wonderful story teller he is. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Merrill | 2/9/2013

    " I think I'm just not in the mood for this type of story right now. Couldn't get into it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cashmool Dada | 1/21/2013

    " Another great story. I am so glad I discovered Doig. He has complete control of his craft and this story, oh what a story. I absolutely loved this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jill | 1/17/2013

    " What can I say, I'm addicted to Doig's books! His characters come to life and he spins a magical tale through them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbydecarlo | 12/23/2012

    " This was not my favorite Doig book, but like all his books, the characters and place were strong, with good history and dialogue. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ted | 12/18/2012

    " I am a sucker for Doig's storytelling, and this was another great one. I could have done without the last page and left it to my imagination though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stacy | 12/9/2012

    " I love Ivan Doig. Thanks for another book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diane | 8/7/2012

    " This was a lovely relaxing story to read with characters you could picture and relate to. "

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About the Author
Author Ivan Doig

Ivan Doig (1939–2015) wrote over a dozen books, including the Indiebound bestseller Work Song, the classic memoir This House of Sky, and the acclaimed Montana trilogy. He has been a National Book Award finalist and has received the Wallace Stegner Award, among many other honors.

About the Narrator

David Aaron Baker is a voice and film actor. He is an award-winning narrator of dozens of audiobooks, including the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz, Paradise Dogs by Man Martin, and The Bartender’s Tale by Ivan Doig. He has earned several AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a three-time finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration.