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This House of Sky

Landscapes of a Western Mind
By: Ivan Doig
Narrated by: Tom Stechschulte
Length: 11 hrs and 31 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

A nominee for the National Book Award, Ivan Doig's brilliant memoir shares the experiences and culture that shaped his early years and made him fall in love with the West. From his childhood in a family of homesteaders through the death of his mother and his move to Montana to herd sheep, Doig shows his intimate connection with the American West.

©1978 Ivan Doig (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

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Profile Image for Doggy Bird
  • Doggy Bird
  • 06-09-14

Early work by a favorite author

This was my first audio version though I have enjoyed reading the books of Ivan Doig for many years. Most of his books take place in the Montana of early to mid-20th century and are as strange and fascinating for me as the stories of medieval knights. They bring me the kind of pleasure that I felt as a child reading the "Little House" books, but with much more mature themes and very beautiful, often poetic language.

I think Tom Stechschulte does a very good job of reading with a natural but flat drawl that I associate with this region of the country and with an earlier and slower time. This particular book is interesting because it describes Doig's journey in becoming a writer. It is a tribute to his parents and grandparents and to the way of life that his family for generations had known. This way of life had already begun to disappear at the time this book was written and Doig was conscious of chronicling the end of an era in this work. He taped his father's and grandmother's recollections as he progressed, knowing these were memories that held in them a way of life that was disappearing. I was sometimes surprised when modern technology shows its face in a book filled with stories that could not have been much different a hundred years before. The challenges faced, hard weather and stubborn animals, are eternal and help to make the stories timeless and yet there is an aspect of them very bound by time since few Americans today grow up with a childhood like this one that occurred not much before most of us were children.

I think the emotion in the stories, the connection between the family members who spend a lot of time struggling with one another as well as with nature is another reason I enjoyed the memoir. It demonstrates an intense but unsentimental bond I found very appealing. The stories recount Doig's memories of his life with his father after his mother died, from the age of 6 or 7 until college and Doig's burgeoning conscience of his rejection of this life.

When his father becomes ill his maternal grandmother joins the journey and the three of end up together -more or less- and the stories of their isolated, hard working lives driving sheep and repairing fences, working in the shadow of awesome mountains and catastrophes make for fascinating reading most of the time. There are a few stories where the memoir slows down in the middle - where the fact that this is Doig's first full length book becomes evident, but that is a small price to pay for this very engaging memoir and story of Montana. Doig's use of language and investigation of memory also distinguish this memoirs from those of many less talented writers that seem to appear more and more frequently these days. Highly recommended for readers who appreciate beautiful writing and stories of other way of life.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Julianna J Mathers
  • 03-01-19

An epic tale...

One of the best books I have ever listened to. The writing is vivid and paints a 3D picture of the Montana of Doig’s youth. Can’t wait to listen to it again!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michelle
  • 23-12-18

Love this book!

The narrator was fantastic. I can still hear him in my head. The book is so full of memories, not just Mr Doig's but mine. My mother's family came from Scotland and some of the words a phrases jumped out at me like a very welcome present. Honyakers is a word I remember well and miss hearing from my mom. Thank you Mr Doig, for sharing your father and Lady with us.

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  • Anne Tunnell
  • 28-09-19

Exceptional writing

I loved the story but it was really Doig's descriptive writing that reeled me in.
The narrator also made the characters come alive!

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  • DeAnn
  • 11-09-19

The Best Book I've Ever Listened To

My highest recommendation for This House of Sky. Through his spare but masterful use of language Doig can paint a magnificent picture, create rich characters and weave an epic, strong story. With such outstanding writing and the best narration I've ever listened to This House of Sky is one my three top Audible books. I will re-listen to this book many times in the future!

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  • Nana Anna
  • 09-09-19

Beautiful memoir

i happen to enjoy reading memoirs, biographies, nonfiction, etc.. so this was right up my alley, but I have a special affinity for this book as my father grew up in Montana and my maternal grandfather worked for a sheepherder out of Valier when he was a young man in 1915-20. I both read and listened to this book and liked it very much.

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  • Jeff Sisco
  • 25-01-19

Montana is so alive!!

My fellow Northwestern alum, Ivan Doig has given the world a bit of Montana wonderment. And his novels are immensely appreciated.

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  • Laura Harley
  • 12-12-18

An Incredible Book

This is one of the most important and significant books of American literature I've read (listened to) in the last 30 years. Astounding book. I read the book on the strength of the reviews and the 5 star ratings. I had not heard of Ivan Doig, probably because I stopped reading American literature 30 years ago because so much of what I was reading was mediocre. The reviews and ratings are correct. This is a good book. It's hard to describe the focus of the book, it seems to cover everything. It's about the West, but it's not really about the West. It's a long book, and it started slow. There is no plot, and while it's called a memoir, it's not a typical biography. The book was interesting and well written, so I stuck with it. Then it slowly transformed into something very special. What a find.

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  • Bonnie D. Pierce
  • 06-12-18

Doig is a master of words

He paints a picture so completely it’s mesmerizing. In the audible version I often had to go back a minute or two to just appreciate his use of words. Feel the chill, smell the pastures, know exactly what the sky looks like. The narrator Tom Stechulte is the perfect perfect person to read this book. I’d listen to him read a book about scrubbing pots and pans.

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  • Futurework
  • 02-09-18

Always looked forward to reading the next chapter.

Very well written. I really appreciate getting to know about a time, people and place in our history that I have always been intrigued by. And Doig does the telling so well