The Bartender's Tale

Front Cover
Thorndike Press, 2013 - Fiction - 629 pages
44 Reviews
"The Bartender's Tale is the story of a father and son left on their own in a shifting world--a tale in itself as old as kinship, but ever new in the way "the bachelor saloonkeeper with a streak of frost in his black pompadour and the inquisitive 11year-old boy who had been an accident between the sheets" go about life in the small Montana town of Gros Ventre in 1960. Tom Harry, the nonpariel bartender and proprietor of the "nearly holy oasis," the Medicine Lodge, has a past he won't talk about and a habit of sudden disappearances for a few days, which plagues his impressionable son, Rusty, as does the unexplained absence of his mother ever since he was born. In their otherwise companionable bachelor life together, Rusty has free run of the saloon's fantastic back room. And in the momentous summer that is the heart of the novel, he shares this secret aperture into the often mystifying world of grownups with Zoe, the new girl down the street whose imagination outdoes even his own amid the wonders of the back of the saloon. History, as it tends to do, arrives to these prime characters with gale force, first in the person of enthusiastic young oral historian Del Robertson and then in the shapely form of Proxy, an unforgettable taxi dancer in Tom's earlier fabled saloon in a Fort Peck dam boomtown. Proxy comes bearing life-changing news, of the sort that leaves Rusty and Zoe marveling at what grownups get themselves into. The tale unfolds in Rusty's richly reminiscent voice, leading to the climax where a catastrophe delivers them all trials of conscience. In sum, this is a warmhearted yet consequential family saga in the spirited storytelling tradition of William Faulkner's The Reivers and Isak Dinesen's Winter's Tales."

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - viviennestrauss - LibraryThing

I wanted to really like this book. It is just okay but at page 207 with nearly 200 more pages to go, I'm not interested in finishing. Too many books I want to read to continue slogging on - way too much repetition for me - I don't have to be told the same thing dozens of times to get it. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BookConcierge - LibraryThing

From the book jacket: Tom Harry has a venerable bar called the Medicine Lodge, the chief watering hole and last refuge of the town of Gros Ventre, in northern Montana. Tom also has a son named Rusty ... Read full review

All 3 reviews »

Other editions - View all

About the author (2013)

A third-generation Montanan, Ivan Doig is the author of thirteen previous books, including the Indiebound bestseller "Work Song" and the classic memoir "This House of Sky." He has been a National Book Award finalist and has received the Wallace Stegner Award, among many other honors. He lives in Seattle.

Bibliographic information