Heart Earth: A Memoir

Heart Earth: A Memoir

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by Ivan Doig
     
 

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Ivan Doig’s companion memoir to his bestselling This House of Sky—inspired by the letters his mother wrote during World War II—is “a lyrical evocation of the Doigs’ gallantly hardscrabble existence and love for the unforgiving Montana mountains” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Raised by his father and maternal

Overview

Ivan Doig’s companion memoir to his bestselling This House of Sky—inspired by the letters his mother wrote during World War II—is “a lyrical evocation of the Doigs’ gallantly hardscrabble existence and love for the unforgiving Montana mountains” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Raised by his father and maternal grandmother, Ivan Doig grew up with only a vague memory of his mother, who died on his sixth birthday. Then he discovered a cache of her letters, and through them, a spunky, passionate, can-do woman emerged. His mother was as at home in the saddle as behind a sewing machine, and as in love with language as her son.

In this prize-winning prequel to his acclaimed memoir This House of Sky, Doig brings to life his childhood before his mother’s death, and the family’s journey from the Montana mountains to the Arizona desert and back again. “Profoundly original and lustrous,” (Kirkus Reviews) Doig eloquently captures the texture of the American West during and after World War II, the fortune of a family, and one woman’s indomitable spirit. Doig is “a colloquial stylist without equal…and Heart Earth is a book that repeatedly proves the power of language” (Los Angeles Times).

Editorial Reviews

The Seattle Times
“Doig at his best: fresh, vivid language energizing his keen insight.”
Los Angeles Times - Michael Dorris
“Like Doig's This House of Sky, Heart Earth is a book that repeatedly proves the power of language... Ivan Doig uses words like oil paint to create canvasses of enduring value and originality.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In poetic and precise prose, Doig has crafted a worthy complement to his acclaimed memoir, This House of Sky. While that book concerned family tensions after his mother Berneta's death in 1945, here, prompted by a cache of his mother's letters to her sailor brother from that year, Doig recreates a life ``the five-year-old dirtmover that was me'' could hardly have known. He describes life in an Arizona housing project for defense workers, where his family moved to spare his mother's asthma. He tracks down his Uncle Wally's old beau, about whom his mother wrote. He recalls the battle between his grandmother and father over his mother's medical condition, ``the geography of risk'' and the family move back to Montana ranching. Doig's writing is immensely quotable--listening to his elders was ``prowling with your ears.'' What makes this book so touching is that, through letters, Doig realizes how much he, the writer, owes to ``this earlier family member who wordworked.'' (Sept.)
Michael Dorris
Like Doig's This House of Sky, this book repeatedly proves the power of language. Ivan Doig uses words like oil paint to create canvases of enduring value and originality.
Los Angeles Times
Kirkus Reviews
Fifteen years after This House of Sky, Doig (Ride with Me, Mariah Montana, 1990, etc.) returns to his earliest days in another profoundly original and lustrous re-creation. Inspired by wartime letters (just recently presented to the author) from his mother to a favorite brother stationed in the Pacific, Doig traces his family's struggles from Montana ranches so isolated that "weather was the only neighbor" to the shared hopes of an Arizona defense workers' housing project and back to Montana, with its steady string of natural indignities. Doig's parents eke out a living, always on the verge of better times despite the shadow of his mother's asthma and the prevalence of daily hardships: coyotes near the sheep ranch; infested one-room houses; road mud "thick enough to float a train." His mother's death comes without warning, on the author's sixth birthday, just as the sheep are ready for shearing and a certain healthy profit. "Nobody got over her," Doig writes, "those around me in my growing-up stayed hit." Doig captures the serial disasters, as well as several cherished family scenes—including a lunch of Spam sandwiches and lime Kool-Aid—with the clarifying beauty and sure shaping hand of his first book. Even when mining some of the same material that appeared there, he claims new territory for the significant figures in his life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781501156052
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
08/16/2016
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
928,110
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

Heart Earth


  • Dear Wally—

    . . . I shouldn’t even be writing you my troubles but I have to spill over to someone. I’d just like to have you around so I could put my head on your shoulder and cry.

    . . . It is going on one and we haven’t had dinner yet. Charlie is resting and I thought the rest would do him more good than eating. Ivan is out in the backyard building roads. He had a foxhole dug you could bury a cow in.

  • Meet the Author

    Ivan Doig (1939-2015) was a third-generation Montanan and the author of sixteen books, including the classic memoir This House of Sky and most recently Last Bus to Wisdom. He was a National Book Award finalist and received the Wallace Stegner Award, among many other honors. Doig lived in Seattle with his wife, Carol. Visit IvanDoig.com.

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    Heart Earth 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
    Drann More than 1 year ago
    Based on the letters his mother wrote to his uncle during World War II, Doig is able to construct an understanding of his mother who died when he was young. Anyone who has lost a parent at an early age would long for the information provided in his mother's letters to a beloved brother fighting in the War. Doig has the ability to draw a reader in and to enable that reader to share in his sorrow, but the book is by no means a "downer." His mother's life was short, but it burned bright with love.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a heartfelt true story about a time in the west, and a family bound to each other by the hardships of life. I couldn't put it down. Ivan Doig writes from the heart.