Part of Ivan Doig’s acclaimed Montana trilogy, English Creek revolves around Jick McCaskill, a 14-year-old growing up in 1930s Montana. This incandescent coming-of-age tale dramatizes the climatic events of one summer that inevitably mark Jick’s awakening from childhood to adulthood. Through his eyes we see those nearest and dearest to him at a turning point - "where all four of our lives made their bend" - and discover along with him his own connection to the land, to history, and to the deep-fathomed mysteries of one's kin and one's self.
©1984 Ivan Doig (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
"Sheer magic...simply a national treasure." (USA Today)
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
I read "Dancing at the Rascal Fair" as a stand alone book, not realizing it was part of a trilogy. "Dancing" is a 5 star read and a gem of a book. It is also the true beginning of the trilogy. After reading "Dancing," I wanted more about the family and what happened to them. I read "Prairie Nocturne" which followed a side character and didn't satisfy the itch. This is what I should have read. Although, I have no clue why Doig chose to make it the first book of the trilogy, it is actually the second book chronologically and makes a lot more sense to read second. Having read "Dancing," I picked up on subtleties and relationships that I wouldn't have caught at all if I had read this first. "English Creek" starts slowly and the plot lazes along, just a 3.5 star read for me, but it was the salve for my itch of wanting more after "Dancing." Glad I found it.
I loved listening to Doig's "Dancing at the Rascal Fair." This story was not as interesting because the protagonist, Jick, is mainly an observer of other characters' lives and not much happens in his own. There is just one main conflict and to me it wasn't strong enough to sustain through the story. What was interesting was the references to "Rascal Fair" because Jick's grandfather is Angus McCaskill, the protagonist of "Rascal Fair." It was still an entertaining listen, but not nearly as rich as "Rascal Fair."
I found "English Creek" even better than "Dancing at the Rascal Fair", which is a favorite with many, not just me. The weird thing is that "English Creek" is the first of the series but chronologically it follows "Dancing at the Rascal Fair". I think it is better to read it after "Dancing at the Rascal Fair"! "Ride With Me, Mariah Montana" is the next one I will pick up. Check out all of the "Two Medicine County" series. I love the way Ivan Doig captures the essential both in physical descriptions of the land, the dialog between people and what is essentially important in life. Some compare him to Wallace Stegner but I think he is MUCH better. There is marvelous humor in Doig's writing.
Doig's portrayal of the characters transported me straight into their world. I frequently found myself laughing out loud to the various thoughts and conversations that were had throughout. Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Montana Leather Crafter -
Ivan Doig and I were raised in the exact same culture here, in the ranching country of Montana. I can personally testify to the authenticity of the culture of this series. As I have made my way into the author's world, through his works, I continue to be astounded at the depth and the detail and the emotions that I feel - it's just like stepping back in time. If you truly want to experience what it might have been like to be raised the the authentic rural Montana - this Man Ivan Doig is your author.
Stanley Mexal - just an amazingly accurate character of the time and the place. I was exposed to many, many good men of his type as a boy growing up. Quiet and reserved but oh, so powerful
Stanley Mexal - the alcoholic that everyone but Jick's dad overlooked. This man has a pile of hard earned experience and wisdom - he is memorable because Mr. Doig does such a great job of keeping him under wraps until it matters.
Scott Sowers is, bar none, the best narrator I have ever experienced. His voice and the tone that he set for this work was amazing to me - the story was twice a meaningful to me having Scott perform it - as compared with reading it.
Four hours into this book and still no plot. I am very disappointed, especially since I loved Doig's 'Tale of a Bartender' and 'Dancing at the Rascal Fair'. This book is not for me. I am returning it.
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
The writing was fine, the setting was fine, but the story. . . . well, I suppose if I was male and wanted to relive a year or so in the life of a 14 year-old Montana boy, I might have actually enjoyed it. There was no drama, no real issues; just the day-to-day sometimes clumsy activities of a boy-turning-young man. That is not to say bad things about Doig's writing. . . it was great; offering very good visualizations of Jick, his family and surroundings. For me, it was not very interesting. . . and after enjoying Dancing at the Rascal Fair so much, I could not help but be disappointed that this story didn't offer the same degree of interest.
It will surely get high reviews from others, so don't let me dissuade you from reading other reviews and trying the book if you are a mind to do so. Just not my cup of tea.
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