Thursday, April 09, 2015

Ivan Doig, 1939-2015


Ivan Doig (c) Carol Doig


Ivan Doig, the award-winning author of sixteen books, died at his Seattle home in the early morning hours of Thursday, April 9, 2015, of multiple myeloma. During the eight years of his illness, he wrote his four final novels, including Last Bus to Wisdom, which will be published on August 18, 2015. He was seventy-five.


Born in 1939, Doig grew up along the Rocky Mountain front. A former ranch hand, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University and later went on to earn a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. For a few years he pursued a career in journalism, but it was book writing that drew him. Doig believed that ordinary people deserve to have their stories told, and he did that in fact and fiction, beginning with This House of Sky, a memoir of his own upbringing in Montana; it attracted a wide readership and was a finalist for the National Book Award. He later wrote a second memoir, Heart Earth, and another book of nonfiction, but it is for his novels that he became enduringly read. An early novel, The Sea Runners, told the story of four indentured servants escaping Russian Alaska in the mid-nineteenth century. With English Creek, in 1984, Doig introduced the Two Medicine Country, an imagined region based upon the Montana landscape where he came of age. That novel also introduced the McCaskill clan, who reappeared in the two that followed, Dancing at the Rascal Fair and Ride with Me, Mariah Montana, the trilogy spanning a century of Montana history. The world he’d created endured-- the Two Medicine Country is the setting for the majority of his novels – as did the habit of plucking characters from previous novels and reintroducing them sometimes several books – and in fictional terms, several decades – down the road. The 2006 novel The Whistling Season, a New York Times bestseller, about a mail-order housekeeper who comes west to work for a widower and his motherless sons, debuted a favorite character, Morrie Morgan, an itinerant charmer who subsequently appeared in two further novels, Work Song (2010) and Sweet Thunder (2013), his misadventures drawing Doig’s settings south to Butte, Montana, and the conflicts between the behemoth Anaconda Copper Mining Company and the beleaguered miners in the early part of the twentieth century. Two late novels, The Bartender’s Tale (2012) and the yet-to-be-published Last Bus to Wisdom, come as close to autobiography as Doig ever got in his fiction, in that they were inspired by circumstances out of his childhood: his father’s habit of taking Doig along as a boy to the saloons where he liked to hire on haying crews in the first case, and in the second, an episode where Doig, who lost his mother at the age of six and was raised by his father and his ranch cook grandmother, was sent east to Wisconsin for a summer when both adults encountered medical difficulties. But Doig was adamant about the line between fact and fiction, and took pride in the strength of his imagination. “That’s why they call it fiction,” he liked to say. “You make it up.”    


“Ivan Doig has been, from This House of Sky, his first grand entry into literature, one of the great American voices, full of grace, abounding in humanity, easeful in narration, hypnotic in pace, grand in range,” said Thomas Keneally . Doig’s work earned him comparisons to Wallace Stegner, from whom he inherited the informal title “dean of Western Writers.” Indeed, the Center for the American West awarded Doig the prestigious Wallace Stegner Award in 2007, and he was the recipient of the Western Literature Association’s lifetime Distinguished Achievement award. He is the recipient of more awards from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association than any other writer, among numerous other honors.   “Ivan was one of the greats,” says Riverhead publisher Geoff Kloske. “We have lost a friend, a beloved author, a national treasure.”


Doig is survived by his wife, Carol, his partner in crime in researching and editing his books and a longtime professor of journalism.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Boris Johnson chats with Freakanomics about The Churchill Factor, cheese boxes, and the best investment he's ever made

"Boris Johnson drops by to chat about being: Mayor of London; a writer; a great admirer of — and now biographer of — Prime Minister Winston Churchill; a potential future prime minister himself; and, most singularly, he chats about just being Boris Johnson.

JOHNSON: I love… I love… old wooden tennis rackets.

There are other old things he loves.

JOHNSON: I collect… old cheese boxes.

At one point in the conversation, the need arose to remove his shoes:

JOHNSON: No, yeah, hang on… I’m going to take them off… I’m just going to see if I can see what’s in the…. these are so worn…. that you can’t… hang on… uh… oh God."

Listen to the full interview here.




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The Associated Press on Anne Lamott's SMALL VICTORIES: "Her words heal us all."

“Beautifully written essays, filled with nuggets of wisdom gathered over years of mindful living… Her tone is intimate and the pace slow, allowing readers to linger over each essay, like a great meal with friends you never want to end. She boils complicated matters down to basics, and stretches the limits of emotional depth in simple stories with larger lessons… By sharing her journey from drunk to sober, broken to mended, hungry to spiritually fulfilled, her words heal us all.” Read more...

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Four Riverhead titles on New York Times Book Review's Notable Books of the Year!

Four books published by Riverhead in 2014 are New York Times Book Review Notable Books, including Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, Panic in a Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya, and The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. 


You can see the full list here


Cover boy snow bird   Cover marlon james  

Cover panic in a suitcase   Cover the paying guests

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

One Gram Short by Etgar Keret in The New Yorker

"One Gram Short" is a new short story by the brilliant Etgar Keret, featured in The New Yorker. Read the story here.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Courtney Young, Executive Editor at Riverhead

CYoung1(c)Jeff Zorabedian

Riverhead Books is thrilled to announce that Courtney Young is joining the editorial staff of Riverhead Books with the role of Executive Editor.


Young says of her move to Riverhead “I’ve always admired Riverhead's distinctive books and the enthusiasm and intelligence with which they publish them. I’m looking forward to joining this amazing team and building a list of scientists, journalists, and thinkers whose writing changes the way we understand the world.” She has edited and acquired books by many bestselling authors, including Randall Munroe (#1 New York Times bestseller What If?), Mark Miodownik (Stuff Matters), Adam Rogers (Proof), Joe Nocera and Bethany McLean (All the Devils Are Here), Seth Godin (Linchpin, Tribes), Ian Bremmer (The End of the Free Market), James Rickards (Currency Wars), and Pete Carroll (Win Forever), among others.


Prior to coming to Riverhead, Young was senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and also worked at Penguin's Portfolio, Current, and Sentinel imprints. Before working in publishing, she was a technical writer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Riverhead Publisher Geoff Kloske said “It’s a pleasure to welcome Courtney back to the Penguin family, and her exceptional taste and instinct for smart, unexpected and thought-provoking nonfiction is a perfect fit for the Riverhead list.” Young will begin her new role in December.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The New York Times calls A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James a "monumental new novel"

"It’s like a Tarantino remake of “The Harder They Come” but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner, with maybe a little creative boost from some primo ganja. It’s epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. It’s also raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting — a testament to Mr. James’s vaulting ambition and prodigious talent." Read the full review here.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The New York Times profiles Jess Row and his book, Your Face in Mine

"In the weak light of a February afternoon, Kelly Thorndike has a strange chance encounter in a Baltimore parking lot with Martin Lipkin, an old friend from high school. But time has brought a big change. The Martin that Kelly knew was white. The man standing before him is black.

Their meeting sets the stage for Your Face in Mine, Jess Row's debut novel... joining a long tradition of fiction about racial guises." Read more.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sarah Waters and her novel The Paying Guests featured in the New York Times

"It’s that shift, that moment of modernity,” Ms. Waters said. “The impact of the First World War was to shake things up enormously, loosening up old mores, fashions and behaviors. The early ’20s were like the waist of an hourglass. Lots of things were hurtling toward it and squeezing through it and then hurtling out the other side.” Check out the full piece here.

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Friday, August 01, 2014

Emma Straub's THE VACATIONERS in the Washington Post

"In these pages — so funny, so wise and, yes, even so sweet — she’s created the best feel-good story of the summer.” Read more.

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