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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, Fiction, 2013

Time and again, Ivan Doig has proven himself to be a treasure of American letters. Critical darlings and New York Times best sellers, his novels target the heart of the human experience and never miss the mark.

The Bartender' s Tale stars Tom Harry and his 12-year-old son, Rusty, who live alone and run a bar in a small Montana town in the early 1960s. Their lives are upended when Proxy, a woman from Tom's past, and her beatnik daughter, Francine, breeze into town. Is Francine, as Proxy claims, the unsuspected legacy of her and Tom’s past? Without a doubt she is an unsettling gust of the future, upending every certainty in Rusty’s life and generating a mist of passion and pretense that seems to obscure everyone’s vision but his own.

As Rusty struggles to decipher the oddities of adult behavior and the mysteries build toward a reckoning, Ivan Doig wonderfully captures how the world becomes bigger and the past becomes more complex in the last moments of childhood.

©2012 Ivan Doig (P)2012 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • Salem, OR, USA
  • 01-03-15

Fabulous from a boy's point of view!

Thank you Ivan Doig for this remarkable tale. I was captivated from the very beginning at this gruff father and observant son relationship. The stories and how the relationship strengthened really kept me listening! Both characters were very good students of human nature. I highly recommend this to all.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • PNW
  • Portland, OR USA
  • 06-10-14

Extraordinary

Where does The Bartender's Tale rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top 2--right next to A Prayer for Own Meany.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The grandfather. The character was very well developed and the reader had the privilege of getting to know him slowly. The character had integrity--in the sense that everything he said or did was consistent, and not simply introduced to advance the plot.

Have you listened to any of David Aaron Baker’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I plan to.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me laugh out loud, literally--a little embarrassing because I was listening on the bus.

Any additional comments?

My husband read the book and we've spent many evenings discussing the characters, plot, setting. The book is so rich and filled with imagery that I know we'll continue our discussions.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joange
  • Rice, VA, United States
  • 05-05-14

Absolutely Fabulous Story

If you're looking for edge of your seat, action packed suspense, this is not the book for you. If you're looking for a beautifully told story, check out this book. The characters hold their own and each adds to the tale of a man and his son during the 50's in Montana. The ending is perfect - you get just enough information to satisfy any questions yet enough leeway to wonder. The reader does an excellent job. Wow! I loved this book!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it!

What made the experience of listening to The Bartender's Tale the most enjoyable?

After a string of negative books I found this one - a tale with characters I could care about, root for, and even worry about. Good people in tough situations, rising above the many problems they encounter, this is a tale of fatherhood, a coming of age story, and a lesson in history. It's also a lesson in life. You have to play the hand that you've been dealt.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

You have to play the hand that you've been dealt.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Denise
  • Woodinville, WA, USA
  • 04-05-14

Ivan Doig has out-done himself.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book (audible and written) to any of my friends who are serious readers.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Delano and Zoe.

Which character – as performed by David Aaron Baker – was your favorite?

Delano. He makes a lovely story, really exceptional. He made this story so much richer than it could possibly have been otherwise. I would have been really upset if he'd died in the flood. Zoe is a totally cool kid, who set the stage for Delano.

If you could rename The Bartender's Tale, what would you call it?

I'm not sure, but this is not a bartender's tale.

Any additional comments?

I would recommend this book (audible and written) to any of my friends who are serious readers---not those who want an easy, run-of-the-mill, best seller novel (which can have
their place in the world of entertainment!) I have been a fan of Ivan Doig for many years, but this book is his best example of story telling, and his best example of his ability to turn a phrase, use a word to describe a momentary happening, to use lingua Americana as a part of the story telling, but also as a part of one of the most significant parts of this book. Kudos, Doig! I really want you to top this!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Original Father/Son Story You Don't Want to Miss!

As far as contemporary fiction goes, this one gets 5 Stars. The original storyline introduces us to a single father, whose son is being raised, unhappily, by an aunt. The father makes a decision to bring his son home, and together, they grow up running a bar. A wonderful father and son story that is not ruined by stereotypes or over the top emotion. Characters are rich and unique. Even though the storyline spans a couple of decades, the author presents it as just a "slice of life." Contemporary fiction isn't often my thing, but this book was. David Aaron Baker was absolutely the perfect choice for narration.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ed
  • 03-02-14

Ivan Doig writes another winner

What did you love best about The Bartender's Tale?

The return to the Two Medicine Country, and the intermingling of well liked characters from some older books with new characters, just as interesting and likable.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Tom, the bartender, doing the best he knew how to raise a son in uncertain times, and instill a sense of right in the boy--His reactions when confronted with a daughter he didn't know about show his innate sense of right and wrong, To say more now would be a spoiler.

Have you listened to any of David Aaron Baker’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Have not yet, but will definitely put him on my list of preferred narrators.

Who was the most memorable character of The Bartender's Tale and why?

Montana Dan--I knew a number of older men like him when I was much younger, and Doigs characterization of the old semi hermit sheepherder is spot on..

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Coming of age

What made the experience of listening to The Bartender's Tale the most enjoyable?

This is an excellent coming of age story with some of life's hard knocks. Well written, excellent stortline and very well performed.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good but not great

It was an okay read a distraction that didn't need great attention but not a recommend.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Nancy
  • Hot Springs Village, AR, United States
  • 09-21-13

The Endless Tale

Starts out slow and gets slower. At first you want to know a little about the characters, but eventually you don't care about them. I just expected something to happen - and it never did. Glad to have finished this book, but won't get another by this author.

Listen to the sample of the narration. If you can listen to that for the length of the book, maybe the book will be enjoyable for you.