Constant Reader
WebBoardOrientationReading ListsHome WorksActivities

Buy the paperback

Dancing at the Rascal Fair
by Ivan Doig


To:                ALL                   Date:    01/13
From:   AJXR61B    CAROLE IWANAGA        Time:     1:00 AM

"DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR,                                
 Devils and angels all were there,                          
 Heel and toe, pair by pair,                                
 Dancing at the rascal fair."                               
                                                            
In the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, people poured    
into Montana from points East.  My grandfather was one of   
them, coming from Minnesota and homesteading near Scobey, in
Montana's northeastern corner, where gently rolling plains  
seem to go on forever.  Although DATRF is set farther west, 
in what might be considered the "pretty part of Montana," I 
feel that Doig captured the strength and resilience of all  
Montanans.  Montana took the people who flocked to it and   
had its way with them.  It made them successful or made them
fail, it made them or broke them.  What was it that made Rob
bitter in the end?  Was it the knowledge that he had        
betrayed his best friend and tore apart his family?  Or was 
it the years' accumulation of Montana hardship?             
                                                            
This was my second reading of this book, and although I     
remembered that I liked it very much, I had forgotten enough
about it to have it become, happily, a surprise and a       
discovery all over again.  I have always enjoyed "pioneer"  
stories and books, having grown up hearing tales much like  
them from my parents.  That is what drew me to this book for
the first reading.  The second, however, opened new         
emotions.  The first brought to life the hardships of       
pioneering, the feeling of destiny, the hard work that, if  
you're lucky, results in a toehold on the land for your     
descendants.  I enjoyed the drama of it, the telling of how 
it was.  The second reading brought to life the love story  
of Angus and Anna.  Perhaps it's due to where I am in my    
life now that this time I heard and felt Angus' deep        
feelings of love and of loss.                               
                                                            
I read Doig's newest, BUCKING THE SUN, and I was put off by 
the flippancy of his writing in that book.  What were, in   
DATRF, clever turns of phrase and inspiring uses of words   
were, I felt, carried to an uncomfortable extreme in BTS.   
But rereading DATRF was a pleasure, a rediscovery of Doig's 
talents.  I enjoy his way of finding new meanings of words, 
his way of turning them ever so slightly on their sides so  
we can see them in new ways.                                
                                                            
                                                            
C G Carole                                                  


===============   Reply    1 of Note   40 =================

 
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 01/13 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 7:15 AM Carole, I knew I wouldn't finish DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR before the discussion began! I've been going in so many directions since finding CR such a short time ago. Yes, I love Doig's style. He seems to be writing with a twinkle in his eye. It occurred to me that I haven't read too many books written in the first person by a man. It's definitely different. This is the first time I've ever sat at dinner & told my husband the plot of a story as I go along. He's enjoying it too! I tell him every surprise & twist I find in the book & it's fun to see the interest in his face. It was so fascinating the way Lucas solved the problem with Nancy in the beginning. Clever man! Doig gives us some new similes to savor. One I liked was, "Lucas was as merry as thick jam on thin bread.". (That is *literally* one to savor!) I am also enjoying his comments on life. One which I thought was especially expressive was, "...it ought to make the sea weep itself dry, what people can do to people." -Joy =============== Reply 2 of Note 40 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 01/13 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:11 AM Dear Carole, I'm way behind on this book because of a certain Dickens that I've been reading. I tried to read the two together, but felt I was making NO headway. So . . .will join in the discussion as soon as I get up to speed. I know Ruth has finished the book and will be back from visiting her mother soon. Thanks for starting the thread. Sherry in the urban tundra =============== Reply 4 of Note 40 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 01/13 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:39 PM Carole, Joy, and all, I finished the book yesterday. My love for pioneer stories dates back to the second grade when my mother introduced me to THE LITTLE HOUSE series. I adored all of those books, and I reread them when I was in my 20's. Anyway, I particularly like Angus's way of trying to defuse a situation. He always tells us what he is thinking and then what he says. That scene near the end when Angus, Rob, and Varick are bringing home the loads of hay during the blizzard was so apropos of our weather here right now. I thought of them sitting out in the frigid cold as I was driving to work today, in my nice warm car. My mother's father settled in Wyoming about the time that Rob and Angus arrived in Montana, so I thought of him when I read this book. I will post some more when I gather my thoughts. Jane in frigid Colorado. =============== Reply 5 of Note 40 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 01/14 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 11:05 PM Carole & all those discussing DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR: If you don't hear from me for a day or so, it's because I'm trying to finish DATRF. I'm really wrapped up in Angus' story & by now I can almost hear his voice & the rhythm of his speech as I read. His story is breaking my heart. He's such a tender-hearted man. And so full of wit! I'm not reading anymore of the discussion until I finish the book, because I don't want to know what happens until I read it...& the discussion may give some things away. BTW, I told Eddie about the way Angus solved the girls' outhouse problem. Eddie's response was, "Let the punishment fit the crime." LOL! I'll be back. -Joy =============== Reply 6 of Note 40 =================  
To: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Date: 01/15 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 1:58 AM Just a short note to say that I found DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR a pleasurable read. It's the kind of book I used to dote on, a long involved story about people and how they lived there lives. I'm attracted to more pschologically based novels now, that concentrate more deeply on relationships over a shorter period of time. But that's neither here nor there. DATR was easy swimming, but not simplistic. I enjoyed it. It reminded me a lot of ANGLE OF REPOSE. Did it strike any of you others that way? Ruth, home in southern California where the palms march in straight lines across the valley, the hills are greener than truth and the mountains are winter white =============== Reply 7 of Note 40 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 01/15 From: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Time: 11:10 AM Hi Ruth, I'm intrigued by your comment comparing ANGLE OF REPOSE to DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR. I have read both, and would like to hear your thoughts about that. How did you find them similar? Carole, who will spend today thinking back to AOR =============== Reply 8 of Note 40 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 01/15 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 1:24 PM Carole, I should know better than to try to answer that question online, but here goes. They were both stories of people in the early days of the west. I don't remember exactly where AOR was set, but if it wasn't Montana it was close to it. And there was that theme of a frustrated love affair that ran through both. And in both cases I got a little irritated at people who pine away over something that can't be helped rather than just getting on with their lives. Ruth, where it's cold, dark, and rainy =============== Reply 9 of Note 40 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 01/15 From: ACCR69A JOSEPH BARREIRO Time: 3:06 PM Ruth and all - DATRF reminded me a lot of Stegner, more in terms of theme and landscape than style. I found it more similar to BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN thematically than ANGLE OF REPOSE, as that also dealt with immigrants (Norwegian rather than Scotch) and a marriage that was unsatisfactory though mutually accepted on largely unspoken terms. Doig certainly has his own style - as Joy already commented, he excellently captured the rhythms of speech and thoughts of his characters, most particularly the men. Angus, Rob and Lucas are marvelous personalities - I was swiftly caught up in their wide-eyed adventure into a new life. Angus' reliability as narrator suffered greatly once he was dumped by Anna - he is unable to articulate the madness of his unrequited desire for a woman who basically kept him dangling for twenty years. The women seemed less well-drawn. Nancy was a cipher, Anna became enshrined as an avatar of Angus' desire, and Adair was cryptic in that I, much like her brother, was never as comfortable as she appeared to be with her acceptance of the circumstances of her marriage. It seemed that despite his protestations to the contrary Angus truly deceived himself about the unhealthy nature of his obsessive love. He knowingly failed Adair in his inconstancy of affection and admired her for being a trooper about it. Rob's concern for his sister is understandable to the reader if not to Angus - not so his spiteful descent into the delivery of invective which made made an almost irreparable breach between father and son. Was it the inexorable progression of years of frustration about finances, the difficulties year after year of making a decent living, or jealousy of the masculine filial bond that made him throw off and discard the bonds that had been forged over many years with Angus? Doig never really lets us know - it is probably the central tragedy of this novel, that a man's heart can never be known, often even to himself. I had read only one other Doig novel previous to this, THE SEARUNNERS, which is completely different in terms of style and theme from DATRF - it is about the escape of four men from indentured servitude on a Russian island off the Alaskan coast in the 19th century. I enjoyed it a great deal, though Sir Richard in Alaska did not find Doig's descriptions of the Pacific wilderness as captivating as I did, who have never experienced it first-hand. I enjoyed reading this novel, and I'll be willing to read more Doig in the future. Joe B "Reason alone can never explain how the heart behaves." =============== Reply 10 of Note 40 =================  
To: ACCR69A JOSEPH BARREIRO Date: 01/15 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:30 PM Joe, I enjoyed your note. Your last quote reminded of something Woody Allen said a few years ago when he dumped Mia Farrow for her stepdaughter. I think that Rob wanted a son like Varick. The two of them were very close until Rob betrayed Angus by telling Varick about A.'s love for Anna. In true Rob fashion, he exaggerated the scene between Anna and Angus by saying that "They were really going at it" to Varick. After the rupture, Varick was cooler to Rob than he had been, so I think that Rob's plan backfired. Rob intended this as a warning to Angus, but he went too far. Rob wanted to draw the family closer together when in fact he did just the opposite. This is why I think that he was so bitter. He was at fault and he did not want to admit it. We all know people like Rob who let their egos get in the way - "I am going to stick to what I said even if it kills me." Jane who would not like to live in Montana. =============== Reply 11 of Note 40 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 01/16 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 11:05 AM Carole & all: I finally finished it! Went to bed & couldn't sleep. DATRF left me slightly dissatisified, even tho I enjoyed every minute of reading it. With all the frustrations of life thrown in, the last straw was poor Scorpion's fate. What did he do to deserve that? Seriously, reading all of your comments so soon after I finished the book, truly extended the pleasure of my reading. Your reading experiences helped to put the book in perspective for me. As Joseph's final quote suggested, there were many questions unanswered for me in the book. I understood the obssessive love. I understood the family resentments. I don't think the book adequately explained why Anna chose Isaac Reese over Angus. The character of Isaac Reese was vague to me. I needed to know what he had that Angus didn't. What did Anna see in Isaac? I don't think it was just his position of security & money. I don't buy that Anna chose Isaac to satisfy her parents. If Anna had this great love for Isaac, why was she so drawn to Angus? I kept suspecting that Rob had done something to influence Anna's decision to marry Isaac. But what could it have been? You can see that I'm interested in the love angle, teen-ager that I am! The big question was the reason for Rob's unhappiness & change of personality. His wife, Judith's character was a bit thinly drawn. I kept saying to myself, Rob's marriage doesn't sound too happy either. A happy marriage can make up for so many other frustrations. Perhaps if Judith had been more of a love to him, he could have come thru the hard Montana life more intact. Given his self-centered personality, I didn't see that just his worry over his sister could make him so bitter. Yes, he wanted a son, but Angus didn't have the personality to make someone jealous. In fact, he shared his son with his brother-in-law Rob in the beginning. Perhaps Rob was subconsciously jealous of the great love that Angus had experienced with Anna. Throughout the book I felt sorry for Angus. At the end of the book I started to have more sympathy for Adair. As the book jacket expressed so well, her marriage was a "love born of [Angus's] heart-break" and she demonstrated a "stoical devotion" throughout. Funny, I had less sympathy for Rob. He turned everyone away from him. He had such potential as a person. Or perhaps he didn't. Or perhaps he was the one who had lost out the most in life. What if he had married Nancy? Was she just an "infection" with a quick cure, or could she have developed into a cure herself, bringing more fulfillment to Rob. As they said in the book, (I think), too bad there couldn't have been two Nancy's, one for lovable Lucas & one for the rascal, Rob. -Joy =============== Reply 12 of Note 40 =================  
To: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Date: 01/16 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 11:16 AM Oh, I forgot to mention the one quote, among many in DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR, that I shall never forget: p.333-"The one pure language of love is Braille." Joy =============== Reply 13 of Note 40 =================  
To: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Date: 01/16 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 11:52 AM One more thing... As I read DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR, I wondered if Angus had had a daughter instead of a son, would the daughter have forgiven him the pain he caused Adair more readily than did his son? Especially after Angus tried so hard to explain himself & to make peace. I doubt if a daughter can hold a grudge against a father as long as a son, especially a father as truthful & soft-spoken as Angus. But then again, I've got a crush on Angus. Also, what did you think of Angus' love for Adair. I think back to how he was willing to take anything from Varick as long as Varick was good to his mother. I'd like to think that the love between Angus & Adair grew as they matured into their later years. But I guess the memory of Anna would always be there to lessen the force of the love. Still, I think Angus loved Adair more than he himself realized. -Joy =============== Reply 14 of Note 40 =================  
To: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Date: 01/16 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 12:21 PM Or did Angus want Varick to be good to his mother because he(Angus) knew full well how much he (Angus) was shortchanging her? Guilt is a powerful motivator. I agree that Rob's wife was a nonentity. I did like Angus for quite a bit of the book, but then I completely lost patience with the boob. Come on, the woman ditched ya, and not too kindly at that. Leave it be and get on with life. What did Anna do to deserve all this devotion? Love at first sight is often built on a house of sand. And yes, her motives for marrying Isaac were not clear or convincing at all. Ruth, in sunny blue California =============== Reply 15 of Note 40 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 01/16 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 4:09 PM Ruth, Good point. Angus never verbalized his guilt, did he? I suppose he must have felt it, although I got the impression he excused himself on the grounds that Adair knew what she was getting into when she married him. I think Angus would have had an easier time getting over his obsession with Anna if she wasn't living in the same community. Also, Joseph's Barreiro's idea that Anna was the embodiment of Angus' desire may explain why he couldn't shake the obsession. Desire goes to the core of our being. Perhaps if Angus had married Anna, his obsession would have slowly cooled down. Joy, no expert on obsessive love =============== Reply 16 of Note 40 =================  
To: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Date: 01/16 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:59 PM Joy and Ruth, I didn't understand why Angus continued loving Anna either after all of those years. It kind of reminded me of the obsessive love in BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. I had no patience with those two because they completely gave up on life after they parted. Angus at least made a life for himself. And of course, this DATF is a zillion times better than BRIDGES. Your point about Judith is well taken, and we also don't get to know his daughters at all. It is just Angus, Adair, Rob, and Varick and Lucas at the beginning. Nancy fades into the background. Rob's life should have been quite lively with all of those women around. Jane in Co =============== Reply 17 of Note 40 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 01/17 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 8:17 AM Jane & all, Yes, I also thought about how lively Rob's life should have been with all those daughters to dote on. I almost hate to be pulling apart Doig's story like this, because it gave me so many hours of pleasure in the reading. But that's what we're here for! (See my next post.)-Joy PS-Jane, I thought your comparison with the obsessive love in BRIDGES of MADISON COUNTY was a good one. And yes, DATRF was much better than BRIDGES, as you say. But I didn't get the impression that in BRIDGES they completely gave up on life. I have to think about that. I thought they just went on with their lives. Anyway, thanks for the reference. -J. =============== Reply 18 of Note 40 =================  
To: ACCR69A JOSEPH BARREIRO Date: 01/17 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 8:18 AM Joseph, Ruth, Jane & all: As for why Angus continued loving Anna after all those years, I thought he expressed his helplessness & hopelessness fairly well. (Sometimes trying to let go of these things is like trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Can't be done.) (And don't forget, Anna made the mistake of giving Angus the idea that there was a chance for them, perhaps in the future.) I've gone thru my notes & culled certain quotes to demonstrate what I'm referring to. I thought these were pretty powerful statements on Angus' part: p.286-[Anna to Angus]:"If I ever see that Isaac & I have become wrong together, I'll know in the next minute to turn to you." [And Angus' conclusion]:"I was not irredeemably guilty of loving her hopelessly." p.290-[Angus]:"...Anna & my helpless love for her." p.246-[Angus]:"...in silent love with a woman not my wife...Angus the Hopless. If I could have changed myself from that, would I? Yes, every time...For it was like having a second simultaneous existence...one...husband & father...the other the mute Angus who did nothing but love Anna Reese...one existence too many for the amount of me available." p.246-[and he goes on with his pondering, which I particulary enjoyed]:"Was everyone more than the single face they showed the world?...And were there divisions in people relentlessly at war with each other, as mine were?" So, I conclude that Angus really couldn't help himself. I believe that he did the best he could in trying to get on with his life. In fact, this story is like a cartharsis for him, as he tells of his sad predicament. And as I read his words, they became like a catharsis for me too. That's why I read. -Joy =============== Reply 19 of Note 40 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 01/17 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 11:51 AM Just finished RASCAL and couldn't resist immediately going to CR to download all these really interesting notes. Like many of you, my grandparents were also immigrants (to South Dakota), but they died before I was born so I never had the chance to know them. I do, however, enjoy reading about the immigrant experience, and I especially liked reading about this area of Montana. I think Joe hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that the women characters were weakly drawn. The central story is probably the friendship between Rob and Angus, but the love triangle (which exists primarily in Angus's mind) is absolutely critical to the plot. And I must admit that I had a lot of trouble understanding his obsessive love. I'm with Ruth on this one --why couldn't he just get on with his life? He was involved with Anna for such a short time, but apparently one night of bliss was enough to hold him captive for 20 years. And did anyone else notice that Anna was something of a loose woman by 19th century standards? She wasn't a virgin when Angus met her, and she spent the entire summer sleeping with Issac before she married him.Then she tortured Angus by keeping him on a string --maybe, just maybe, she would leave her husband for him sometime. I kept hoping we would get some insight into her history and what motivated her, but there was none. I know that when we discussed SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, some couldn't understand why Ishmael couldn't just get over Hatsue and grow up. I was not among them. So maybe I am inconsistent in understanding one case of obsessive love, but not another. Adair was the most interesting of the female characters. I did wonder why she kept speaking of herself in the third person, a la Bob Dole. Was this supposed to indicate her sense of detachment? She certainly had my sympathy. I felt that Doig had a good understanding of how difficult the social isolation was for frontier women, and this is one aspect of the story that reminded me of ANGLE OF REPOSE. Stegner was better at seeing the problems of an imperfect marriage from both the female and male point of view, however. Rob is really an intriguing character to me. If he felt guilt for turning Varick against his father, it had to be really subliminal because he was so self-centered. I liked what Lucas ( a wonderful character IMHO) had to say about Rob finding a wife: "He's my own nephew, but that lad is sufficiently in love with himself that it won't much matter who he marries. Whoever she is, she'll never replace him in his own affections." Still, at the start of the story, his zest for adventure and his sense of humor made him quite attractive. I think what broke him was the constant economic struggle. Financial success was very important to him, and he couldn't seem to hold onto it. Ann, who thinks that actually living with Anna, rather than just desiring her, would have cured Angus rather quickly of his infatuation. =============== Reply 20 of Note 40 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 01/17 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 9:35 PM Finished listening to RASCAL this week on tape and have been reading your notes and reflecting about it since. Count me as another with immigrant grandparents, to Nebraska from Denmark. I've heard the stories since I was very young and they come in layers of new meaning as I get older. This is the second book I've listened to by Doig. The first was called RIDE WITH ME, MARIAH MONTANA and is a continuation of the story of this family...listened to it out of sequence. RASCAL is much better. In any case, either in that one or RASCAL, there was a dedication to Stegner that was a significant tribute. I had the sense that Doig had been a student of his and I see a lot of similarities. The theme of relationships over time and their development in positive or negative ways with a particular emphasis on the ones that aren't easily ended...or that we don't want to end...seems common to both (wow, what a long sentence). Angus' relationship with Rob in this one was much like a marriage. I should note that the first tape of my set was damaged so I missed most of the ocean voyage. Can someone enlighten me if something happened between the two men there that was significant? I never quite understood why there was the underlying resentment of the "Barkleys". I understood that Angus' family struggled...were the Barkleys wealthier? I didn't understand how that could be because Adair and her mother were totally dependent on others after Rob's father's death. In any case, Angus watching Rob sour with time as their lives were so bound together by experience, geography, marriage to Adair, etc....seemed to me to be the most important theme of the book...along with the story of the settlement of Montana. I tend to have a fascination with the change in a person's personality over time so this was just as interesting to me as I would guess it is to Doig. Rob's vision of his future seemed to be fairly grandiose. He made the gambles that Angus wouldn't make and thought that he would get the pay-offs that Angus wouldn't get. Instead, he finished as poor (and maybe poorer) as Angus. I am guessing that Doig meant that to be part of the cause of his embitterment. Also, Doig made a point of Rob's jealousy of Angus' experience of having a son. And, Anna also never seemed to take to Rob from the very beginning. Was that meant to be part of his strong negative reaction to her (even before she turned down Angus)...that she wasn't susceptible to the "Barkley" charm? His telling Varick of Angus' relationship with Anna seemed to be part of all that...since he didn't have his own son, he needed to make Angus and Varick less close and it also would hurt Anna in some way. I never got a sense of him *truly* caring about Adair. It seemed to be more a question of the "Barkley pride." Angus was shaming the Barkleys by being mentally untrue to Adair. Adair was very sparsely drawn, but that seemed appropriate since she was such an introverted character. I kept remembering that she had been thrown upon the charity of others in Scotland after her parents died...and that would seem to explain some of her personality and her decision to marry Angus despite her knowledge that she wasn't really his choice. Her fate if she'd gone back to Scotland without a husband would have been fairly grim. This on-going relationship between two people who've made the bargain to avoid loneliness, but who don't ever (until the end, perhaps) get the full measure of each other is pretty interesting stuff too. And, I loved Lucas too, Ann. Great character. My father's stories lead me to believe that people like this really did exist on the frontier. And, that Scottish "Ai" (don't know how they spelled it in the book) was done really well by the reader on the bot). In all, I enjoyed it. I don't think Doig's writing reaches the level of Stegner's, but it was fun anyway. Barb =============== Reply 21 of Note 40 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 01/18 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 2:19 AM Barbara & Ann, I enjoyed reading your posts on RASCAL. Very interesting. All points well taken. -Joy =============== Reply 22 of Note 40 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 01/19 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 11:59 AM Barb, Great comments on RASCAL. Was it an unabridged tape that you listened to? I would love to hear those Scottish accents. Let me see if I can fill you in a little on the ocean voyages since that first tape was damaged. Angus's family had suffered a terrible tragedy. His 3 siblings had died in a cholera epidemic and his parents ended up barely speaking to each other. Angus worked on the books in the Barclay's wheel making shop. Going to American was Rob's idea. Angus was terrified of water (setting us up for the final scenes of the novel), much as a modern day person might be terrified of flying. Angus was always excessively cautious. I think maybe he envied Rob's self-confidence and daring, at least in the beginning of the book. My book says that RASCAL is the second part of a trilogy. I am really curious about the first and third books of the trilogy. Do you remember much about RIDE WITH ME MARIAH MONTANA, Barb? Ann =============== Reply 23 of Note 40 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 01/19 From: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Time: 12:58 PM Ann, I have read ENGLISH CREEK and RIDE WITH ME, MARIAH MONTANA. I believe DATRF is the first book in the trilogy. If there is an earlier one, I don't know about it. I enjoyed ENGLISH CREEK very much, RWMMM was okay, seemed more like a travelogue throughout Montana by someone vaguely bored by the whole thing. I remember it as being more cynical than the earlier books. I am overwhelmed by the comments regarding DATRF. I read this book twice and thought I knew it pretty well, but it takes input from others to really round out my experience of it. One more (of the many) reasons to appreciate CRs.Carole =============== Reply 24 of Note 40 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 01/19 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 3:59 PM Ann, Yes, RASCAL was an unabridged tape. There actually was very little evidence of the Scottish accents except the word "Ai" (let me know how they spelled it if you get a chance) and that word had exactly the right touch. Also, the reader had a very distinctive delivery of everything that Lucas said and it seemed just right to me. The award for accents in a bot still goes to SMILLA'S SENSE OF SNOW...think it was by Recorded Books, but I couldn't swear to it. Loved all the Danish and Greenlandic words pronounced for me. Thanks for filling me in on the first few chapters. Some of it I sort of picked up from the rest of the book, but I'm sure it was more dominant if you'd actually read that part. From Carole's note, it sounds like ENGLISH CREEK would be a better recommendation than MARIAH MONTANA. RWMMM is told through the viewpoint of Angus' grandson and Mariah is his daughter. They drive around Montana in a camper along with Mariah's ex-husband to do a series of articles for a Montana newspaper in connection with Montana's bicentenniel. I didn't get the sense that Doig was trying awfully hard in it...it was too much like a TV movie. I would like to read ENGLISH CREEK though. Am going to check and see if my library has it on tape since they have the other two. I'm guessing that it has to do with Varick and his family, since Mariah's father is Varick's son. There are lots of flashbacks in RWMMM that I'm assuming refer to events in ENGLISH CREEK and they sounded interesting. Barb =============== Reply 25 of Note 40 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 01/19 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 3:59 PM Carole, Is ENGLISH CREEK about Varick's marriage and his son's? It sounds like something I'd like to read based on the story I know from the other two. I certainly know what you mean about the discussion on CR enhancing a book. I tend to opt for books read here over books that I might rather read normally....because the talk here makes them so much better. Thanks for recommending this book. Barb =============== Reply 26 of Note 40 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 01/19 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 7:12 PM All, I finished DANCING this afternoon and have just read all your comments. You've covered about everything I had in mind. I think it would have been much kinder if Anna had given Angus no hope. I imagine that most men would have been so angry at her for the unceremonious dumping that they would have gotten over her fairly quickly. But when she gave him that sliver of hope, she sort of ruined him. There is a lack of basic decency in her rather conniving have a cake and eat it too attitude that made me dislike Anna. I was totally unconvinced about her reasons for marrying Isaac, as were most of you, and I would have liked to have had her real story. Joy, the thought crossed my mind, too, that maybe Rob had something to do with her refusal. At first I thought Rob was going to be Anna's lover--that would have really set up some competition. One thing that I don't think anyone has mentioned is how Varick became such a product of the land. So American in just one generation. He was a product of Montana just as the riverbed was a result of the river. The land had such an impact on him, and that must have been the way it was with all the homesteaders' children. I find this idea fascinating--how we are molded by what is around us. I liked Varick a great deal. He had the idea that saved the sheep; during the long blizzard trek, it was his ideas that got them home; he had more sense that both Rob and Angus put together. After Varick's stint in the army, and Angus' bout with the flu, Varick came to his sense about his father and Rob and must have realized how Rob manipulated him. I also liked Adair.I think, though, that she might have con- tributed to Angus' Anna obsession by not being really sure she wanted to stay. Only at the very end did she say "Adair is not going back to Scotland." It is understandable, under the circumstances, that she hold herself in reserve, but if she could have given him herself without reservations, it might have helped Angus get off the fence. I liked her way of speaking of herself in the third person. I do think it was meant as a symbol of her stepping away from herself, but also it was playful, and cheeky with a touch of self-deprecation. I might take up that affectation myself. Sherry who was just put her daughter on the plane for college and is again an empty-nester =============== Reply 27 of Note 40 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 01/19 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 8:26 PM Sherry, Adair's way of speaking of herself in the third person irked the hell out of me. Of course, the fact that my ex talked like that when he wanted to brag, may have had something to do with it. But, still, it sounded a little affected to me. I liked your point about how it only took the next generation to become American. I'm a case in point, and so are my step-children. Not only American, but Californian. I recently read a book of essays and excerpts by various women writers about how they are daughters of the West. Ruth, who has no farmers, or Midwestern pioneers in her makeup =============== Reply 28 of Note 40 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 01/19 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:31 PM Dear Ruth, Well I guess Sherry shouldn't speak that way to Ruth, now, should she? I imagined a twinkle in Adair's eye when she spoke that way. But I think that done the WRONG way, without a twinkle, could be very annoying, infuriating even. Sherry =============== Reply 29 of Note 40 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 01/20 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:43 PM Sherry, Carole, Ruth, Ann, Joy et al., Where are all of the men who usually discuss CR books with us? I believe someone else posed this question, and I think that Joe B. is the only man to participate. Like, dude, this isn't the VALLEY OF THE DOLLS or somethin'. Jane who has spent much too much time with teenagers. =============== Reply 30 of Note 40 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 01/20 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 10:31 PM Jane - I think good old Joe was also the only man to read my selection (The Makioka Sisters). I guess he gets the sensitive (and well-read) man award. Theresa - who wanted to read Rascal, but couldn't find it at the library or used book-store. I'm keeping my eyes open - will read it someday. =============== Reply 31 of Note 40 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 01/20 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 10:33 PM I was wondering that exact same thing. Hey, guys, this book is told from a MAN's point of view. Really! Written by one too. Has horses and mountains and blizzards. Oh and a love affair. Maybe that's it. Oh well, Sherry =============== Reply 32 of Note 40 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 01/21 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 8:00 AM Aha! The truth outs: Men! Ya can't live with 'em, and ya can't live without 'em. (Or as my pal Paul the Broker says about women, "Ya can't live with 'em, and ya can't live with 'em.") Well, it just so happens that I am finishing up THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET and therefore now have openings on my dance card. What would you ladies suggest we read and discuss next? (I am obviously way too late to do this book.) Steve =============== Reply 33 of Note 40 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 01/21 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:10 AM Dear Steve, There you are! We're doing TONY AND SUSAN by Austin Wright next--Jane's selection. As I said in some note somewhere, let's try to start discussing it about the 2nd week of February. (You're excused if you were reading AQ.) Sherry =============== Reply 34 of Note 40 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 01/21 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 11:04 AM greetings WILD MAN.. since you devour books after TONY and SUSAN..give margaret atwood's new book a peek..ALIAS GRACE... excellent.. gail..hp..a passionate reader finishing a superb novel A FINE BALANCE by mistry...a novel of INDIA...a vertibale tome.. 603 pages... =============== Reply 35 of Note 40 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 01/21 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 8:38 PM Carole & Barb, You were discussing where DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR fits in Doig's trilogy. The following is a quote from a little paragraph at the end of DATRF called "About the Author": "DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR" is the second novel of a trilogy about his fictional McCaskill family & their Two Medicine country. ENGLISH CREEK (1984) was the first." I wonder what the third book in the trilogy was. From what Barbara says, it was RIDE WITH ME, MARIAH MONTANA, since she says it was about Angus' grandson. -Joy =============== Reply 36 of Note 40 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 01/21 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 8:38 PM Sherry, I enjoyed your comments about DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR. I remember when reading about how Varick was such a help to Angus, I said to myself, "Yes, Varick is young & has new strength. Angus was older & worn out." I remember the energy I had when I was in my early thirties. I had 3 preschoolers & still managed to do a full-time first-grade substituting stint for 4 months straight until June, & in July we sold our house & moved to a new one. I don't know where I got all the energy. YOUTH! Yes, 30's was youth! And yes, I agree with you that it would have been kinder if Anna had given Angus no hope. It's always easier to accept the irrevocable. (Although sometimes even the irrevocable is difficult to get over. We always play that "woulda-shoulda" game in our heads.) -Joy =============== Reply 37 of Note 40 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 01/22 From: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Time: 2:40 AM Carole Iwanaga DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR was an exceptioally good read. It had the additional value of filling some gaps in my limited knowledge of the later settling of this country. I just had not realized that we were still giving away homesteads as late as the 1890's. It's probably not fair too call it a give away though, considering the backbreaking work that these people had to go through to make a go of it. For someone raised on Westerns; film and book, it was almost a cultural shock to find a time where the sheep men and cattle men lived near each other without a lot of gun play. The standard plot usually was based on the fact that the sheep do not leave grass tall enough for the cattle to eat. But sheep can eat after cattle leave the range. Different sets of teeth. Also the cowboys were always tougher than the sheep men. No gun play in these pages though; more a story of making do and hard work. And a lot about plain old luck. Finding Lucas Barclay for instance seemed more luck than planning. But then I've always been told that it is better to be lucky than good.I get the feeling that Mr Doig hasn't done a lot of the herding of sheep. He is very skimpy on the details of herding. The little I know about sheep tending is that the dogs are the most important asset you can have. And that you always have more than one dog. Usually an older dog and at least a younger dog who is learning the ropes. Mr Doig doesn't even mention a dog until near the end of the book, when the unlucky Davie comes down with the horrible flu. I used to see the Basque sheepherders up in the hills when Itraveled north to Ventura. They were always sitting down, piling rocks (nobody knows why) and letting the dogs do all the work. The Basque are even reputed to have some sort of mysterious sixth sense with their dogs. Anyway I think it should have been an important part of the McCaskill life. Or could someone use dogs and have no respect for them as intelligent beings and partners? And the most important question of all. What's the difference between a sheep herder and a shepherd? Different rungs of the food chain? Worker and owner? As a non-sequeterious (I made that up)comment, at the beginning of the book Angus mentions a guide book by a Mr Crofutt. It's a name that I've encountered only twice. One gentleman was descended from American Indians and the other from good old European Polish stock. Just an odd something stuck on the flypaper of my mind. Angus is the omly person whose mind is open to us. Or, are we just reading his memoirs over his shoulder? I'm not sure about that, but occasionally the author throws in remembrances of the past using the same words we heard pages ago in conversation. An interesting stylistic ploy that I don't recall running into before. Angus is really a plodder; not too complicated but trustworthy and strong. He's bigger than Rod Barcley (which becomes important near the end of the story) and I wonder if he isn't along as protection, in addition to friendship? He is pretty much an orphan and is indebted to Pere Barcley for part of his livelyhood. Rob seemed to be reasonably financed for this venture. At least there is no mention of severe money problems, but I got the feeling that Rob was paying and Angus owed him. And before I forget it, where was Ellis Island? Wasn't that place in operation then? Was it just for non-English types? TO BE CONTINUED =============== Reply 38 of Note 40 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 01/22 From: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Time: 5:42 AM DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR. continued(2) Back to Angus. Angus never seems to instigate any actions. If it wasn't for Rob, Angus would have wound up on the unemployed rolls in Scotland long before this book ended. The brief fling with Anna is one of the few things he has done on his own. But when you consider the lack of eligible young men, maybe it was Anna who did the choosing. Angus' obsession of Anna is difficult to fathom. Certainly most of us have had some unreasonable attraction for someone . And the disappointment when it is unrequited is hard to live with. The memory elicits a furtive smile every once in a while, but this constant obsessing seems mentally sick. With only small effort the author could have turned Angus into a stalker. Might have still have been a good book. I see nothing wrong in Angus marrying Adair. She's young, attractive and he knows her from home. The idea that he has a temporary marriage, until Anna raises her children and runs out on her husband is more a flight of fantasy than a real promise. But then who understands this man/woman thing anyhow? Adair is the one who is in the most trouble. She doesn't seem to have been a worker. Her parents are dead and her only option is America where the head of her family, Rob, has insisted she go. Angus first refects her and then rebounds in her direction. It's not the worst reason to get married. And she may even love him. Or learn to. One of her problems is that she is a Scot. And doesn't want to be an American. She is resentful that she had to come to America. Throw that in with a little old fashioned agoraphobia and she is not a happy camper. She slowly works her way through these problems and winds up being a good and uselful worker and partner. But still, I cannot tell if Adair is mentally slow or just stubborn. We see everything through the eyes of Angus, and he hasn't a clue either. The fight between Angus and Rob is an event that I feel is significant on a couple of levels. The Barcleys are evidently the town leaders and employers back in old Nethermuir. The McCaskill's had a history of being employed by them. Rob is raised in the tradition that he will lead, and takes it for granted. The Barcleys also have a tradition that is almost akin to Noblesse Oblige; they are good to their employees because its the right thing to do. It is also because they believe the employees don't have the same intelligence and must be led. Rob has an obligation to take care of his sister. He is the head of the family and he does it in a straightforward manner. With just a small bump on the road to the altar the sister and the best friend are wed. This does not end his obligation, it just puts in under one roof. Angus is still working for the Barcleys and his job is Adair. When Rob thinks that Adair has been betrayed openly, he must act for the Barcley name and honor. The friendship is negated by the betrayal. Even in losing Rob does not forgive. He is still a Scot and he is living up to his code. Angus would neve have fought Rob in Scotland (read Opinion). He would have lost in court and in everyone's eyes. His act removes the last ties to the old country. He is now an American. Adair's defiance of Rob's edicts show that she also is part of this new land, and will stick by her husband; no matter the cost. =============== Reply 39 of Note 40 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 01/22 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 6:30 AM Dear Edd, Very good analysis. I really appreciate your viewpoint, especially concerning the Rob and Angus fight. I had an inkling (but did not know how to put it into words) that there was some leader/follower thing going on, but you really brought it into focus. Sherry (to steal gail's phrase) in the wee hours of the morning =============== Reply 40 of Note 40 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 01/22 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 12:30 PM Dear Edd, loved your reference to your "flypaper mind". Hope the stickum on yours is more discerning than mine, which will never forget my phone number in 1940, but forgets to buy light bulbs at the market. I'm sure Ellis Island would have been in full operation at the time of RASCAL. My father came through there in 1914. Or perhaps it started after the RASCAL time? Ruth, inland, where it's grey =============== Reply 41 of Note 40 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 01/22 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:36 PM Hi Edd, I, too, enjoyed your analysis. How do you explain Rob's continuing bitterness, in spite of all the years that have gone by and all of the hardships that they=============== together? He cannot let it go. I would like to hear a man's point of view on this. Jane in colorful Colorado. =============== Reply 42 of Note 40 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 01/23 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 10:16 AM Edd, Interesting analysis of DATRF! Seems to cover all the bases. By now, I am so confused, I don't know what to think! There's a little bit of truth in everyone's opinion. The best part about it is that we can believe what we want. Thanks for that thought-provoking post. -Joy =============== Reply 43 of Note 40 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 01/23 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 8:03 PM Edd, Enjoyed your notes about RASCAL FAIR. I had that same thought about the sheep farmers as opposed to the cattle men. This sure gave us a different view than those Westerns we watched as a kid. And, you're right about the sheepdogs...they are amazing creatures. We had an old quarter horse once that would do the same thing. We boarded her at a farmer's who turned her out with his cattle. When he looked out the window, she had all of them herded up into a tight bunch. If one dared to poke its nose out to wander off, she whipped over there and got it back in the herd again. Thanks for making the observations about the relationship of employer to employee in Scotland between Rob and Angus. Since I didn't get to listen to the first tape in my book on tape of this, I never did quite understand that side of their relationship. And, to everyone who has been pondering Angus' fascination with Anna, I never quite understood either. I mean obviously this was incredible chemistry, but it was hard for me to believe that Angus would cling to this through all of his hardships, raising a son, etc. I found it easier to believe Anna. She grew up with a low-energy father who kept them scrambling to make an income. Then, she finds Angus who is a dreamer and not really awfully ambitious. Contrast that to the Dane (sorry, can't remember his name) who knows how to work hard, focus on a goal and is probably never going to be poor...her personality was bound to make that choice. However, why she kept him hanging *was* a mystery. I think Doig was implying that she never got over their chemistry either despite the choice she had to make...but it seemed incredibly self-centered and cruel to me. Barb =============== Reply 44 of Note 40 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 01/24 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 7:31 AM Barb, I think your insight about Anna being more practical than she was romantic, was a good one. I didn't see it before, but your explanation is very convincing. And maybe the Dane was a better lover than Doig let on. Joy =============== Reply 45 of Note 40 =================  
To: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Date: 01/24 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 5:24 PM Joy, I figured sexual chemistry had to enter in there. After all, she reportedly spent the entire summer sleeping with Issac, so she had to have a pretty good idea of their compatibility in that area. Barb, good point about the practical considerations that guided Anna's choice. Angus was always holding back and described as waiting and watching. He certainly wasn't a risk taker. Probably they weren't compatibile in a lot of ways. I am somewhat surprised, however, that the author didn't delve into this more himself. So far, no one who has posted has been that impressed with Angus's undying love. A major weakness of the novel, maybe? Ann =============== Reply 46 of Note 40 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 01/24 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 11:14 PM Ann, I find your words, "undying love" interesting. So far, words, like "obsessive love", have been the kind of words used in our posts to describe Angus' feeling for Anna. It's interesting to see those two expressions side by side now. I hesitate to try to state the difference between undying love & obsessive love. The latter seems to have more of a sexual connotation. I think it applies to Angus' love for Anna. But we really don't have enough information from the book to make a definite judgement. We can only surmise. Whether that can be called a weakness of the novel, I don't know. Something to think about. -Joy =============== Reply 47 of Note 40 =================  
To: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Date: 01/24 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 11:30 PM Hmm -- do you think "undying love" sounds acceptably romantic, whereas "obsessive love" sounds like a psychological problem? I'm not so sure they are that different, but it's interesting to think about it. Ann =============== Reply 48 of Note 40 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 01/25 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 0:34 AM Ann, Actually, to me, now that I think about it, there is a difference between undying love & obsessive love. When I think of undying love, I think of someone who continues to treat a loved one with kindness & generosity over a number of years, despite whether the feeling is fully returned. Whereas, when I think of obsessive love, it means constantly thinking of the person who is the object of the love & wanting always to be interacting with him, one way or another. How's that for one point of view? Joy, glad Ann brought the subject up =============== Reply 49 of Note 40 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 01/25 From: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Time: 3:53 AM DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR continued(3) In one of her more lucid moments, my mother-in-law mentioned the time of the flu epidemic. She talked about all the pigs dying at that time. This was in Iowa and the flu seemed to take at least one person from every family in that little Iowa town. It was called a swine flu as I recall. Also called the Spanish flu. Has anybody heard if this flu affected sheep? A couple of historical events were passed over, and may have added something to the flavor of the story. The fall of Custer occurred in Montana just before the book starts. I would have thought that a couple of green kids from Scotland would be aware of something that dramatic. The Spanish American War was in the 1890's, and Teddy Roosevelt drew a lot of people from this type area for his Rough Riders. Surely someone would have jumped at the chance for glory. Anna was never seen, except through the eyes of Angus. And Angus tended to see only what he wanted to see. She's healthy and plays the field. Even though Isaac has won her hand, Angus takes her words of parting as an invitation. The words that use "if" are meant to be a polite way of telling Angus that he came in second. AT least she didn't say they could always be friends. There aren't enough women around so that Angus can get used to being dumped. Adding to this also, the author cheats on his portrayal of Isaac. Isaac, who marries Anna, has an almost unintelligible accent. Undoubtedly so that we can tell automatically that he isn't romantic material. The Scots on the otherhand are intelligible throughout. Not fair play. Barbed wire plays a part in the story. Unlike other Westerns, it isn't always bad. Varic finds the fence line from the top strands of barbed wire. Was it Diamond Jim Brady who made his fortune selling the wire? Varic and the Ranger are the same character with two names. They come right out of a Zane Grey novel. Tall, quiet, and ever so resourceful. It is a nice touch that Varic rescues his father and uncle. Nancy or Buffalo Calf Speaks, was never given any importance as a character. Possibly because the author doesn't do well with female characters. It was interesting that in the will she was left with an "annuity" administered by the local banker. Because she was Indian or because she was a woman? But in case anyone thinks the world has changed, I saw a similar happening where one of our engineers left everything to his brothers, so that they could take care of his wife. Edd Houghton =============== Reply 50 of Note 40 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 01/25 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 9:34 AM Edd, You are always thinking. Interesting post. Joy, history major who wishes that she had majored in English & literature instead... =============== Reply 51 of Note 40 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 01/25 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 7:26 PM I kept wondering if Doig really believed in this love of Angus' for Anna, if he was portraying this as something positive or if he saw it as a flaw in Angus. If it was a flaw, it would fit with the rest of Angus' personality...wanting something that he couldn't have to the point that it endangered other things in his life. This is the kind of love that would have appealed to me when I was 18, but with life and experience, it seems hopelessly unlikely and immature. Part of me wonders how I ever got so terminally grown-up as to be so impatient with Angus...and the other part of me wants to shake him (like the Brookner characters discussed in another thread.) In any case, if that's where Doig was headed, it's not a weakness of the novel, but part of the character of Angus. Barb =============== Reply 52 of Note 40 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 01/25 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 11:39 PM Edd, Great comments, especially those noting that Anna was just telling Angus politely that he had come in second and your observation that Varick and the ranger were the same character with different names. Your posts always make me smile, but there is also a lot of truth in them. Glad you read this book too. Ann =============== Reply 1 of Note 1 =================  
To: ALL Date: 02/09 From: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Time: 4:10 AM DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR continued (4) Robert Burns Barclay is (to me) the most interesting character in the book. Even more interesting than his uncle Lucas. But the interesting parts of his life occur off the pages. It is something that a few authors do, and do well. Some of my favorite characters are mostly off the page: Jett Rink in Edna Ferber's GIANT comes to mind immediately. In fact she does that also in CIMMARON (sp?) where the husband of the heroine goes off stage, being an explorer in Alaska, soldier of fortune and finally dying on the battlefield in Europe. Some other characters that you don't get to meet directly: Dr Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories; his copy, Dr Fu Manchu in the Sax Rohmer series. Wasn't the hero named Naismith? But in DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR, almost everything that happens is a direct result of Rob's dream, his business sense; his vision of the future. In a word, Rob is a businessman, and a hellof a good one at that. Unlike a lot of entrepreneurs Rob is also a good worker. And a craftsman. Even in their days of discontent Angus would rather have Rob tie the knots in the rope that will maintain the lifeline with Varic in the snowstorm. The death of Rob upset me greatly. To me he was cast more in a heroic mode. His saving of the young man with subsequent loss of sheep, showed that he would give up profit for a human life. There was nothing in the story that would lead me to believe that Rob would make that last decision to keep the sheep, seemingly just for spite. It grated on my sensibilities when I read and it rings uuntrue now. Ray Bradbury once wrote a story where time is changed so that Hemingway could have died with the snow leopard on the side of Mt Kilimanjaro, and not in mental anguish. Like Bradbury's story, Rob should not have have died ignobly. But still it's the author's story. I can only think of one reason for Rob to remain so bitter for such a long period of time. The beating he took at the hands of Angus. That was a bitter pill for Rob, and truthfully seemed like an over-reaction for Angus, especially since he was the bigger man, and should have been able to stop the fight whenever he chose. Edd Houghton who thoroughly enjoyed this book. =============== Reply 3 of Note 1 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 02/10 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 4:50 PM Edd, I too was disappointed in the ending of DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR. I don't think I will ever understand what made Rob turn into such a bitter person. Surely, something MUST have occurred "off the pages" that we don't know about. Is that what you meant by "off the pages?" Certainly there was nothing ON the pages that could make me thoroughly understand his bitterness. -Joy =============== Reply 4 of Note 1 =================  
To: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Date: 02/12 From: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Time: 4:20 AM Joy Huott I think that often, writers use true incidents to set up their stories, but they don't always have knowledge of cause and affect. And that is their job, to weave a story that creates a logical cause and affect. My guess is that there was a "real life Angus" and a "real life Rob", two Scots who were business partners in Montana. There partnership was broken at sometime, and "Rob" died in an extremely tragic horse accident. The details of having a snow-boot caught in the stirrup seems too horrible to have made up. What happened "off the page" of DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR for us may also have happened "off the page" of history for the author, Mr Doig. Edd Houghton =============== Reply 5 of Note 1 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 02/12 From: XJKD19F JOY HUOTT Time: 7:12 AM Edd, That's an interesting theory. I am always impressed by people who have imaginations great enough to think up wonderful story plots. And I do often wonder how much is imagination & how much is drawn from real life. In most cases we will never know. I suppose the writers with the best imaginations are the most prolific writers. Joy =============== Reply 6 of Note 1 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 02/12 From: QGEE61A JULIE GERHART Time: 10:45 PM You said that you like pioneer novels? I do, too. I find O! Pioneers and My Antonia (both by Willa Cather) to be fabulous novels. In O! Pioneers, the extraordinary heroine, Alex, is fabulous. She is the head of her family, something so rare among pioneers. Julie =============== Reply 7 of Note 1 =================  
To: QGEE61A JULIE GERHART Date: 02/13 From: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Time: 10:52 AM Hi Julie, I read MY ANTONIA and O PIONEERS and liked them very much. One (two, actually) of my favorite pioneer books, by BESS STREETER ALDRICH: A LANTERN IN HER HAND and A WHITE BIRD FLYING. I also loved the trilogy by CONRAD RICHTER: THE AWAKENING LAND, which contains the books THE TREES, THE FIELDS, and THE TOWN (which won the Pulitzer Prize). I read books like that and find myself becoming more aware of how lucky we are to have the conveniences we enjoy and take for granted. carole, who needs to be reminded of that once in a while =============== Reply 8 of Note 1 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 02/13 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 3:42 PM Carole, I read Richter's THE TREES quite some time ago. Don't remember what was in it now, but I do remember liking it. Ruth, south of you, on a beautiful blue day =============== Reply 9 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 02/13 From: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Time: 7:09 PM Ruth, Maybe this will remind you. The main character of the book was Sayward (pronounced sayard). She and her family pioneered in the (ohio?) woods. I remember her mother suffered from some sort of tree phobia or madness and died pretty early on in the story. A couple of years ago I caught a bit of the miniseries that was made from the book. Sayward was played by Elizabeth Montgomery, who was a very fine actress, but miscast, in my opinion. I've read that trilogy twice and just love it. carole, in Northern Calif where spring has arrived! =============== Reply 10 of Note 1 =================  
To: AJXR61B CAROLE IWANAGA Date: 02/13 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 10:18 PM Aha! Carole, you've jogged my memory. I remember I liked the book so much I made a point of watching the TV movie. Oh my, 'tis such a quandary rather to reread a good one or plow on to the new. Ruth, who's been doing spring garden cleanup

 
Photo
Ivan Doig
 
Doig certainly has his own style - as Joy already commented, he excellently captured the rhythms of speech and thoughts of his characters, most particularly the men.
Joe B.
 
DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR was an exceptionally good read. It had the additional value of filling some gaps in my limited knowledge of the later settling of this country.
Edd
 

 
Search:
Keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com