“The Bartender’s Tale” by Ivan Doig

Ivan Doig is at his best when his pen carries us to the rugged small towns and sheep ranches of Montana.

My first visit to Doig country was in “This House of Sky” (a finalist of the 1979 National Book Award). His latest book did not disappoint as it continued to vividly capture a way of life that has almost vanished in our Facebook, fast food, You Tube world where attention spans are often less than 30 seconds.

“The Bartender’s Tale” takes place in the summer of 1960. And when I finished reading, I envied the 12 year old boy—Rusty—who is the main character of the novel. I envied Rusty because of his father and that fact he was growing up in the small town of Gros Ventre, Montana where no one stays a stranger for long.

His father Tom is a legendary bartender, who owns an equally legendary Montana saloon called the Medicine Lodge, and the backroom offers powerful magic for the imaginations of young and old.

There is also the story of an innocent, childhood friendship and the pure love that develops between two twelve-year olds—a boy falling in love with a girl named Zoe.

This is the kind of story you want to savor hoping it never ends. While reading, there were times when my eyes grew moist and other moments when I found myself smiling at the warmth radiating from the page.  After the last page, it was like saying goodbye to an old friend and wishing you didn’t have to leave.

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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