This House of Sky

Ivan Doig |  Nonfiction/Memoir


Doig is a stunning, beautiful writer!  Here’s one example from page 16; you can find such examples on most every page.  “School struck me as the kind of job where you weren’t allowed to do anything; I had free time in my head by the dayfull, and spent it all in being lonesome for ranch life and its grownups and its times of aloneness.”

This House of Sky is Doig’s story of growing up in Western Montana.  On June 27, 1945, Ivan turns six and his mother takes her last breath.  He writes, years later, of his life, his father’s life, and a way of life that has gone out of existence … of sheepherders, almost nomads, and small ranchers high in the Montana mountains.  It was a rough time of subsistence and cold, cold snow.

But three hearts?  Yes, I fear it is so.  I realized upon completing this book that a sense of place, and where we grew up, stays with us forever.  Eventually, I became a bit bored with the story.  And I suspect that is because I grew up in Detroit and not in the West.  I am eager to discuss This House of Sky at book club this week, because I expect the native Westerners, of which we have many in our book club, will love this book more than I did.  I do, however recommend it.  Try it on for size.  Even if you are mixed in your experience, you will learn about a time in our country not too long ago, and you will discover an evocative and deep writer.