Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Review: Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

Title: Last Bus to Wisdom
Author: Ivan Doig
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Audible
Content Alert: A clean read

When Donal Cameron's grandmother needs to have surgery and no one on the ranch in Montana can care for him, he boards a Greyhound and heads east to Wisconsin. He has adventures to spare along the way, and gets plenty of signatures for his autograph book. At the end of the journey, he meets his cantankerous Aunt Kate and her husband Herman, and Donal's life is changed by this strange summer of new experiences.

Ivan Doig died in April, and this book, his last, was published in September. In many ways, Donal's life reflected Doig's own. Both lost their mothers when they were young and were raised by grandmothers who worked as ranch cooks. While it's impossible to read Doig's fiction and not fall in love with Montana, or at least with the idea of Montana, this book was also different from his other works in many ways. It was a little bit more rambly and ruminative. I loved the three principal characters, and Doig did a lovely job weaving characters into and out of the journeys to and from Wisconsin. While I'm really sad that Doig is gone (he's one of those authors where sometimes I'd say, "I'm in the mood to read an Ivan Doig book") the good news for me is that I came to him late enough that there are still books to be discovered. This, like everything I've read in his body of work, is a real treat.

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