Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ride with Me, Mariah Montana

Ride with Me, Mariah Montana by Ivan Doig
my edition (not pictured)
Penguin, 1990
trade paperback, 322 pages
ISBN-13: 9780140156072
(Montana Trilogy Series #3)
highly recommended

From the Publisher:
This greathearted novel is the finale of Ivan Doig's passionate and authentic trilogy about the McCaskill family and their alluring Two Medicine country along the hem of the northern Rockies.
Jick McCaskill, the illustrious narrator of English Creek, returns as the witty and moving voice in this classic encounter with the American road and all the rewards and travails it can bring. Jick faces his family's - and his state's - legacy of loss and perseverance from the vantage point of Montana's centennial in 1989 when his daughter Mariah enlists him as Winnebago chauffeur to her and her ex-husband, the magnificently ornery and eloquent columnist Riley Wright, when their news-paper dispatches them to dig up stories of the "real Montana." Just as the centennial is a cause for reflection as well as jubilation, the exuberant travels of this trio bring on encounters with the past in "memory storms" that become occasions for reassessment and necessary accommodations of the heart.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this western road trip novel. The road trip in question is across Doig's beloved Montana and occurs during the state's 1989 centennial celebrations. Even though this is the third book in a trilogy, you can read it as a stand alone novel. The McCaskill trilogy includes English Creek and Dancing at the Rascal Fair, along with Ride with Me, Mariah Montana. There was a little bit too much taking the Lord's name in vain in it, in all slurred-together oaths, but once you get into the story it seems to lessen and can be easily overlooked. It also suits the character, Jike. Ride with Me, Mariah Montana could read like a guided tour across Montana's historic places and shows how actions in the past can impact the present. I enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it.


CLICK. Her next snap of the shutter caught me by surprise as it always did. After all this while, why didn't I know that the real picture Mariah wanted was ever the unexpected one, the one after you'd let your guard down. pg. 2

"Jick, somebody's going to use you for a doorstop if you keep on the way you've been," she started right in again as if I was running a want ad for advice. "I had to half-drag you here today and now you can't wait to mope off home to the ranch and vegetate some more. I mean, what is this, suicide by boredom? Before, you were never the type to sit around like you got your tail caught in a crack." Before.
"You know as well as I do that you've got to get yourself going again," she supplied in the next breath. "That's why I want you to pack your socks and come along with me on this."
I'd already told her no. Three times, N-O. Actually I guess it must have been four, because Mariah never starts to really listen until you say a thing the third time.
"Sitting sounds good enough to me," I tried on her now. "The world can use more people who stay sat." pg. 4

"Jick. Jick, I need to have you along."
Damn. Double damn.
Going Winnebagoing around the countryside with her and the other one was still the last thing on this earth I wanted to do. But need instead of want. Do people really know what they are trying to reach for with that word? I wasn't sure I could tell, any more. pg. 6

Four entire months of letting myself get just exactly where I knew not to get, between the pair of them. Mariah the newspaper picture-taker, my headlong daughter. And writing Riley Wright, my goddamn ex-son-in-law. pg. 6

A person has to wonder: is everything going to be owned by somebody somewhere else? Where does that eventually end up, in some kind of circle like a snake eating its tail? pg. 8

There was that whole situation, too. Even yet, in the worst of the nights when the question of what to do with the ranch was afire in my mind, I would turn in bed to where she ought to be and begin. "Marce..."
Her at every window of my mind. Ghosts are not even necessary in this life. It is hard facts that truly haunt.
I was not supposed to outlive Marcella. In just that many words, there is the history of my slough of mood, the brown trance that Mariah kept telling me and telling me I had to pull out of. But how do you, when the rest of a life together suddenly turns out backwards. Not that it ever can be a definite proposition, but any couple in a long marriage comes to have a kind of assumption, a shared hunch about who will die first, which is maybe never said out loud yet is thoroughly there. Our own fund of love, Marcella's and mine, seemed to have its eventual sum clearly enough set. My father died at sixty-five, and his father must have been a whole lot younger than that when the labors of his Scotch Heaven homestead did him in. In both of them, the heart simply played out. So, you didn't need to be much of a betting person to figure I'd go off the living list considerably before Marcella. pg. 10

Holy H. Hell, it couldn't be her, out of a past that seemed a thousand years distant. But yet it indubitably was. I mean, I know what is said about why coincidences so often happen: that there actually are only twelve people in the world and the rest is done with mirrors. pg. 13

So imagine the mutual nasty surprise when Mariah unbeknownst put her suggestion to do a series of photographs around the state during its centennial celebration and Riley in equal ignorance put in his suggestion to write a series of stories about the same, and their editor the BB - his actual name was Baxter Beebe - degreed that they were going to have to do their series together, make a mix. Likely that's how gunpowder got discovered, too. pg. 19

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