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Earthlight, Wordfire: The Work of Ivan Doig
Synopses & Reviews
Elizabeth Simpson has written this first comprehensive, book-length study of Ivan Doig's work for Doig fans as well as for scholars. While the central focus is Doig's work, Simpson also suggests new ways western writing can be examined in terms of folklore, history, landscape, and style.
Well-known Doig novels including This House of Sky, Run with Me Mariah Montana, Winter Brothers, English Creek, and The Sea Runners, are analyzed separately with attention to structure, narrative strategy, theme, character, pace, tone, and informing metaphors. Recurrent motifs that bind Doig's work into a canon are also explored. The reader is introduced to changes in folklore studies in the past few decades followed by an examination of the impact these changes have had on literature. Doig's use of folklore to develop character and theme, to regulate pace and tension, also allows him to paint the life of the region he is writing about.
As well, Doig's use of folklore suggests ways to link the history of the West with a meaningful present. Doig's writing also emphasizes the interrelationships between landscape and the people who live in it. In the second part of this study, Elizabeth Simpson addresses the concept of profane and sacred space and adversity as means that western writers use to perceive the relationship between character and landscape. The classic western myth of the solitary hero against the wilderness is not the focus of contemporary western writing where, instead, "community" takes on special meaning. One of the prevalant contemporary themes is the physical and psychological danger of isolation.
While individually Doig's books may differ from each other, they form a distinct corpusbecause the author's use of context informs the text. As Elizabeth Simpson concludes after examining Doig's style, "Doig is, in the most inclusive sense of the term, a regional writer: one who weaves the history, the landscape, the folklore, the language of his home place into stories that articulate major themes in American life".
Book News Annotation:
The central focus is Doig and a close reading of his novels (among them, This House of Sky, Ride with Me Mariah Montana, Winter Brothers, The Sea Runners); but Simpson looks also at a wider field, suggesting new ways western writing can be examined in terms of folklore, history, landscape, and style.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Simpson is a writer specializing in alternative health and personal development.
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