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Publisher's Summary

A nominee for the National Book Award, Ivan Doig's brilliant memoir shares the experiences and culture that shaped his early years and made him fall in love with the West. From his childhood in a family of homesteaders through the death of his mother and his move to Montana to herd sheep, Doig shows his intimate connection with the American West.

©1978 Ivan Doig (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

What listeners say about This House of Sky

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Early work by a favorite author

This was my first audio version though I have enjoyed reading the books of Ivan Doig for many years. Most of his books take place in the Montana of early to mid-20th century and are as strange and fascinating for me as the stories of medieval knights. They bring me the kind of pleasure that I felt as a child reading the "Little House" books, but with much more mature themes and very beautiful, often poetic language.

I think Tom Stechschulte does a very good job of reading with a natural but flat drawl that I associate with this region of the country and with an earlier and slower time. This particular book is interesting because it describes Doig's journey in becoming a writer. It is a tribute to his parents and grandparents and to the way of life that his family for generations had known. This way of life had already begun to disappear at the time this book was written and Doig was conscious of chronicling the end of an era in this work. He taped his father's and grandmother's recollections as he progressed, knowing these were memories that held in them a way of life that was disappearing. I was sometimes surprised when modern technology shows its face in a book filled with stories that could not have been much different a hundred years before. The challenges faced, hard weather and stubborn animals, are eternal and help to make the stories timeless and yet there is an aspect of them very bound by time since few Americans today grow up with a childhood like this one that occurred not much before most of us were children.

I think the emotion in the stories, the connection between the family members who spend a lot of time struggling with one another as well as with nature is another reason I enjoyed the memoir. It demonstrates an intense but unsentimental bond I found very appealing. The stories recount Doig's memories of his life with his father after his mother died, from the age of 6 or 7 until college and Doig's burgeoning conscience of his rejection of this life.

When his father becomes ill his maternal grandmother joins the journey and the three of end up together -more or less- and the stories of their isolated, hard working lives driving sheep and repairing fences, working in the shadow of awesome mountains and catastrophes make for fascinating reading most of the time. There are a few stories where the memoir slows down in the middle - where the fact that this is Doig's first full length book becomes evident, but that is a small price to pay for this very engaging memoir and story of Montana. Doig's use of language and investigation of memory also distinguish this memoirs from those of many less talented writers that seem to appear more and more frequently these days. Highly recommended for readers who appreciate beautiful writing and stories of other way of life.

10 people found this helpful

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An epic tale...

One of the best books I have ever listened to. The writing is vivid and paints a 3D picture of the Montana of Doig’s youth. Can’t wait to listen to it again!

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Love this book!

The narrator was fantastic. I can still hear him in my head. The book is so full of memories, not just Mr Doig's but mine. My mother's family came from Scotland and some of the words a phrases jumped out at me like a very welcome present. Honyakers is a word I remember well and miss hearing from my mom. Thank you Mr Doig, for sharing your father and Lady with us.

3 people found this helpful

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The narration is as near perfect as I have heard.

This book by Doig is already well-known as a masterpiece and there is nothing more for me to say there. If you have heard good things about it, they are correct; otherwise, you have been misled. Having listened to many audiobooks and having a few times, including 'This Land of Sky', both read the written work and listened to the audiobook, I'm prompted to write a review here by my deep appreciation of Tom Stechschulte's work. It is excellent. In his reading, the book is better than I had remembered. Stechschulte joins Edoardo Ballerini's reading of Knausgaard, John Vaillant's reading of his own work, and Wil Wheaton's reading of Ready Player One on my short list of the best examples of the narratorial art.

2 people found this helpful

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Doig exudes love for his family, land, & history

I guess my favorite parts were about sheep herding in Montana, both in Doig's earliest years and I. his teens. what a unique experience! So profoundly tied to the land and weather. I feel very soft by any comparison. his dad and grandmother walk right out of the book into your heart. Great narration, too.

1 person found this helpful

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Gorgeous Autobiography

Beautiful story of family, ranching, Montana, an old way of loving. Very moving and earthy story.

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Exceptional writing

I loved the story but it was really Doig's descriptive writing that reeled me in.
The narrator also made the characters come alive!

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The Best Book I've Ever Listened To

My highest recommendation for This House of Sky. Through his spare but masterful use of language Doig can paint a magnificent picture, create rich characters and weave an epic, strong story. With such outstanding writing and the best narration I've ever listened to This House of Sky is one my three top Audible books. I will re-listen to this book many times in the future!

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As absorbing as a novel

After so thoroughly enjoying Dancing at the Rascal Fair, I wondered if I could enjoy This House of Sky as much. I did! There are similarities in setting and approach: what interesting studies of relationships, and what interesting comparisons and contrasts with Stegner’s Big Rock Candy Mountain. This is a first-rate lifelong list book!

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  • CA
  • 02-09-21

Stirred many memories and emotions

For me to have stumbled onto This House of Sky by chance seems quite improbable. Again and again throughout my listening, I pictured my own father (and me in some situations) as both Doigs, father and son. Love the writing style that gives such eloquent and efficient treatment to homespun, back country, ranch life vocabulary and phrases. Anxious to discover more from Ivan Doig.