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Heart Earth

( 2 )

Overview

Ivan Doig grew up with only a vague memory of his mother, Berneta, who died on his sixth birthday. Then he discovered a cache of her letters—and through them, a spunky, passionate, can-do woman as at home in the saddle as behind a sewing machine, and as in love with language as Doig would prove to be. In this moving 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....

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Overview

Ivan Doig grew up with only a vague memory of his mother, Berneta, who died on his sixth birthday. Then he discovered a cache of her letters—and through them, a spunky, passionate, can-do woman as at home in the saddle as behind a sewing machine, and as in love with language as Doig would prove to be. In this moving 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. He 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.

An exploration of the poineer impulse that drew settlers to the Pacific Northwest.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR HEART EARTH

"Like Doig's This House of Sky, this book repeatedly proves the power of language. Ivan Doig uses words like oil paint to create canvasses of enduring value and originality."—Los Angeles Times

"A lyrical evocation of the Doigs' gallantly hardscrabble existence and love for the unforgiving Montana mountains."—San Francisco Chronicle

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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156031080
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/1/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 178
  • Sales rank: 786,661
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Ivan Doig

Ivan Doig is the author of ten previous books, including the novels Prairie Nocturne and Dancing at the Rascal Fair. A former ranch hand, newspaperman, and magazine editor, Doig holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. He lives in Seattle.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 9, 2013

    If you like Ivan Doig, you will appreciate this book.

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2011

    Good read.

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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