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Work Song Hardcover – June 29, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (June 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594487626
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594487620
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Doig affectionately revisits Morris "Morrie" Morgan from the much-heralded The Whistling Season. Now, 10 years later, in 1919, Morrie lands in Butte, Mont., beholding the area's natural beauty that "made a person look twice." Scoring a job is a top priority, as is getting more face time with Grace Faraday, the alluring widow who runs the boardinghouse where he stays. Things, naturally, are complicated, as the fiendishly bookish Morrie is on the run from Chicago gangsters who feel they've been duped after he scored a windfall from a fixed sports wager. The local "shysters" at the duplicitous Anaconda Copper Mining Company, meanwhile, find Morrie's sudden interest in Butte highly suspicious as they try to bully Grace into selling her property. Morrie lands what might be an ideal job working at the public library with ex–cattle rancher Samuel Sandison, though our sturdy narrator must choose sides when the mining company ups the ante. Drama ebbs and flows as Morrie yields to the plight of union leader Jared Evans, and Morrie and Samuel come to terms with sins from their pasts. Charismatic dialogue and charming, homespun characterization make Doig's latest another surefire winner.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Every once in a while, critics are so divided on their opinion of a novel as to leave readers scratching their heads in bewilderment. Witness Work Song. Sure, its plot is a little thin, and it's "history lite." Yet most critics praise Doig, a veteran writer of the West, for his ability to weave a story out of the familiar Montana countryside--or his panoramic, loving portrayal of those landscapes--and they explain Doig's hold on readers as the result of an avuncular blend of history and nostalgia. On the other hand, respected literary critic Jonathan Yardley has written thousands of reviews, few of them--by his own admission--so scathing and pointedly negative as his response to Work Song. One wonders at the gulf between "subtly thought-provoking" (Los Angeles Times) and "world-class dud" (Washington Post).

More About the Author

Ivan Doig is the author of ten previous books. Seven are novels, including English Creek and Dancing at the Rascal Fair, and three are nonfiction, including the highly acclaimed memoir This House of Sky, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. 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

Some stories are just stories.
Flight Risk (The Gypsy Moth)
Except for one book, I've thoroughly enjoyed everything I've ever read by Ivan Doig, and even the one I didn't enjoy so much was well done.
Nagronsky
His characters are delightful and he paints a very good picture with his descriptions that are very spot on.
Oneyedphotog

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Flight Risk (The Gypsy Moth) VINE VOICE on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Some stories are just stories. Some are tales. This is a yarn. And by that I mean a tale told well, with lots of connecting threads.

Ivan Doig has a masterly hand when it comes to spinning stories about the West. You can feel the grittiness of a mining town, the vast blueness of the skies, the diversity of the people who made up the towns that sometimes came fast and went just as fast. This story takes place in Butte's early days, when those skilled in mining came from every conceivable place - Cornwall, Wales, Italy, Finland, Germany, Ireland - and each group gravitated to their own part of town.

Enter Morris Morgan - the name he adopts for his time in Butte. He is a literary man, trying to lose himself in the miasma of humanity in rough-and-ready Montana (his story continues from an earlier book, in which he's milked the Chicago mob for some money, and really needs to become someone else, somewhere else). He lands in Butte sans luggage, which was sent somewhere else; and presents himself at a local boarding house with only satchel in hand. Initially suspicious, the landlady eventually accepts him into her home, populated by herself and two retired miners, and Morgan sets about getting gainful employment.

His adventures bring him to both an undertaker in need of assistance and a library, into which he is lured by his love of books - and into the employment thereafter of the larger-than-life curator of the library, Sandy Sandison, a former rancher who seems to have absorbed the town library by brute force, but whose personal collection is beyond compare. He sees something in Morgan that he approves of, and so Morgan finds a home at the library.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Gayla M. Collins VINE VOICE on May 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Morgan Morris, once a teacher in a one room school house in Marias Coulee, Montana,("The Whistling Season")moves on to the wild recesses of Butte, Montana, copper capital of the world. Post WWI Butte is scene of depravity and desire. Gambling halls, entire streets of prostitution, and speakeasies that scream attract the hard driving miners to their respites. Fighting the crooked companies through their unions take most of these workman's souls and these wild streets are their fortifications.

Morrie is a man of words, the prairie poet, the intellectual who takes up residence in a quiet boarding house owned by Grace, working in the town's library. However, he cannot blind himself to the violence and foreshadowing of even more to come. Meeting a former student of his and her Union husband catapults Morris right into the flames that threaten to bring Butte burning to the ground.

Ivan Doig is a poet. A writer that can evoke emotions, sights, tempers, images, and conversation with the magic of his pen. Incredible wordsmith, he transport you back into Butte's heyday with the smell of cabbage in one neighborhood and marinara sauce in another. He unites you with the clash of angered hungry men against the cold, ruthless greed of mine companies. Flowing with beautiful English, he shares an ugly story that demands your attention and understanding.

In my reader's opinion, Ivan Doig is pure genius. If you long for a fantastic story that is written with eloquent, descriptive, thought-provoking prose, then treat yourself. The pages of perfection are there gifted by a man who was born to write.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By theus VINE VOICE on May 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Doig's genius is character development, particularly quirky characters. That statement might be the kiss-of-death for some readers, but only if they haven't been introduced to Doig. Getting to know the men, women, and perhaps especially the children, who populate his stories is as much fun as reading a fast-action thriller.

In Work Song, Doig plucks a secondary character, the mysterious teacher Morrie Morgan, from an earlier novel and sends him on an adventure of his own with only a passing reference to his back story. Morgan, escaping an unseemly former life, has landed in Butte, Montana. In no time at all, he becomes entangled in the lives of his landlady, the local union organizer, a skinny little kid who can run like the wind, and the town's gruff and fearsome librarian.

Doig's writing is masterful and I found myself transported to Butte with absolutely no effort on my part except to open the book and start to read.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Selby on August 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really loved everything about "Whispering Season." And as I well know, sequels to novels--"Work Song" is the sequel--sometimes do not work well. Morrie was a wonderful character in the first novel. But he really is not believable in this book. Not at all. The book is set in Butte, Montana, when copper was king and workers were exploited. Unlike the first book where Morrie become a wonderful school teacher, in this one he works in a public library that just isn't believable. Not even close. Of course there is a love story, but not at all believable as was the wonderful love story in "Whispering Season."
Ivan Doig is a master craftsman of sentences and dialogue. But I have to say I become a little annoyed with the overuse of the em-dash. And I think the em-dash is a great tool. I use it a lot in my own writing. But...
The book is loaded--and I mean loaded (see my em dash usage!)--with literary allusions. The reader is to believe that Morrie has memorized everything ever written in the English language, again something that just isn't that believable. But in the other novel--and I do highly recommend that one--his love of languages, especially Latin, is very believable as he sets out to educate a very inquisitive young man.
I suspect Mr. Doig was pressured by his publisher to write this novel. I hope in the future he will not feel compelled to do so because it didn't work for this novel.
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