The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig

The Bartender's Tale

From a great American storyteller, a one-of-a-kind father and his precocious son, rocked by a time of change. Tom Harry has a streak of frost in his black pompadour and 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, an “accident between the sheets” whose mother deserted them both years ago.The pair make an odd kind of fam...

Details The Bartender's Tale

TitleThe Bartender's Tale
Release DateAug 21st, 2012
PublisherRiverhead Books
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Coming Of Age, Westerns, Literary Fiction

Reviews The Bartender's Tale

  • Jaline
    This story tugged at many heartstrings many times over while reading it. Rusty (Russell) Harry is the narrator of the story and his perspective drew me in, enraptured me, and held me captive to what would happen next.When he was a baby, his father left him with his sister, brother-in-law, and two nephews in Phoenix, Arizona while he did his best to pull together his saloon, The Medicine Lodge, in Gros Ventre, Montana. Tom (Thomas) Harry made freq...
  • Jeanette
    No one can turn the mundane to magic better than Ivan Doig, and the proof is in THE BARTENDER'S TALE. This is the fourth Doig novel I've read, and it may just be my favorite. Pull up a barstool, order a Select beer, and prepare to be enchanted. Russell "Rusty" Harry is our narrator, an old man who takes us back to the summer of 1960 in the fictional town of Gros Ventre, Montana. Rusty was twelve that summer, and he and his father Tom had been liv...
  • Laysee
    The Bartender’s Tale is set in a small Montana town (Gros Ventre) nestled amidst sagebrush, fields green with alfalfa, and parades of sheep on the mountain slopes. For the local businessmen, ranchers and shepherds, the Medicine Lodge is a saloon of near-mythic status where Tom Harry, the legendary bartender, serves up just the right kind of drinks and conversation that magically match what each customer needs. This heartwarming story is told fr...
  • Darlene Matule
    There was a time when I bought every Ivan Doig book published. "Dancing at Rascal Fair" is still on my list of all-time-best reads.Then came "Bucking the Sun". I grew up 20 miles from Ft. Peck Dam. Went to high school with kids bussed in from Ft. Peck. I knew about the “dam towns” like Wheeler where the legendry Blue Eagle Tavern was run by bartender Tom Harry. My father arrived there in 1934 and sold water to businessmen and dam workers and ...
  • Liz
    My time-scarred father was no movie star, nor was he a Dust Bowl Okie, but his face was a badge of the decade as surely as if printed on a coin. Ivan Doig has a way of telling a story that charms me right down to my toes! The Bartender’s Tale is yet another example of a slowly meandering story without a lot of action, and yet it made for such delightful stretches of reading time; it was the perfect escape from the hectic pace of life as it has ...
  • Cynthia
    I loved the Western setting. Montana seems to be a place that has somehow managed to retain a lot of the 1880’s and 1890’s feel. Doig conveys this in his 1955 through 1960’s time frame. The story is about a young boy who’s been abandoned by his mother as an infant and deposited with his paternal aunt in Arizona until he turns six. That’s when his pop, the erstwhile bartender of this story, swoops down and takes him home to MT. They both...
  • Irene
    This is a mid-20th century coming of age story set in a small Montana town. The story focuses on the summer of 1960, when the narrator is 12 years of age. I have heard it said that there are only 2 stories, a stranger comes to town and a person goes on a journey. This is the former with several strangers entering the boy’s life through this summer. The author creates a sense of intimacy with the reader. This could have been a guy sharing his st...
  • Barbara
    IMO It took 250 pages for this book to finally get its footing. Considering there's only 385 pages in this book, that just doesn't cut it. The story itself had potential - a bartender and his son living in Montana in early 1960, a year that would change many things for them. The son, Rusty, is likeable enough and Doig does a great job capturing the speech and essense of a 12 year old during this time period. His father Tom is smart but set in his...
  • Julie Ekkers
    I really like Ivan Doig's writing which I think of as both sophisticated and down to earth, if that's possible. For example, in describing the vocabulary of a friendship central to The Bartender's Tale, Doig writes, "Inevitably added to [what we heard in the bar] was every particle of radio serial and comic strip and movie dialogue that was silly enough to remember, piled up and waiting in two active twelve-year-old brains like ingredients fillin...
  • Christine Boyer
    Okay, I'm going to be gentle here because I think Doig was a wonderful storyteller (he sadly passed away from cancer a few years ago) and I enjoyed both "Dancing at the Rascal Fair" and "English Creek" several years ago. However, Doig's novel, "Whistling Season" I did not care for, and this experience felt more like that one.So what happened? I noticed when I first began reading it didn't feel right. Words like wholesome, quaint, homespun, nerdy,...
  • Bdalton
    I love to listen to audiobooks on long road trips. It is hard to find one that my husband will tolerate and that is appropriate for my teenage daughter. The audiobook version of The Bartenders Tale is a great choice for my family.We live in the west and most of our trips are to other western states. The bulk of this story is set in small town Montana. The story begins when a father, Tom Harry, travels to Phoenix to claim his young son, Rusty (Rus...
  • Book Concierge
    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, whose mother deserted them both years ago. The pair make an odd kind of family, with the bar their true home, but they manage just fine. Until the summer of 1960, that is, when Rusty turns twelve. Change arrives with gale force, in the person of Prox...
  • Linda
    I loved "The Whistling Season" by this author and was anxious to read this new book. Tom Harry, bartender at Gros Ventre, a blink and you miss it kind of town, retreives his son, Rusty, age 6 from his sister's house in Arizona, who has been raising Rusty since birth. Tom is a likable character and the Medicine Lodge is a popular bar. Rusty is happy to leave his aunt's house and his irritating nephews who constantly pick on him. Rusty loves the ba...
  • Steven Walle
    This was a reread for me. It is a great book written by my cousin Ivan Doig.I recommend it to all.Enjoy and Be Blessed.Diamond
  • Michael
    My review from the Missoula Independent:If Montana literature were a religion, Ivan Doig might be its pope. The author of 13 venerated novels, he has written a trilogy about Montana's statehood, a turn-of-the-century Butte novel called Work Song, and This House of Sky, a memoir of his boyhood growing up in a raw and magnificent landscape. Doig takes a different tack in The Bartender's Tale. It's a drama set in what he calls "the Two Medicine coun...
  • Carol
    Ivan Doig has written another successful novel. I thought it was great from start to finish. "The Bartender's Tale" is set in the small Montana town of Gros Ventre (gro van) in 1960. It is told in the voice of 12-year-old Russell (Rusty) Harry, the son of the owner/bartender of the Medicine Lodge, Tom Harry. Tom came to Gros Ventre after runnning a similar establishment at Fort Peck, MT, while the huge earthen damn on the Missouri River was being...
  • Jackie
    Picking up an Ivan Doig novel is like placing yourself under a spell. You don't even want to put the book down between readings for fear of breaking the spell that holds you entranced. Mr. Doig is an incredible master of the written word. And he almost never disappoints. This one is definitely in the spell-binding category, at least for me. I began keeping track of passages that I wanted to remember and take note of. And finally gave up - there w...
  • Susan
    The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig is rich and comfortable. As typical with Doig, the characters are so real that you wish you could meet them. Doig especially appeals to readers who grew up in the 50ies and 60ies in working class families. Tom Harry, bartender extraordinaire, struggles to raise his son, Rusty, and give him a better life. Tom is lacking in elocution, although he is, ironically, followed around by an expert in locution! However, th...
  • Doug
    The book starts off very slow and continues that way throughout the book. The slowness does build to a sweet story of a summer shared by two twelve year old growing up in Montana one summer in 1960, but it is sorta boring. The author occasionally throws in a little bit of wit with a few interesting observations and pieces of dialog that might be something your grandfather would say as the story slowly, very slowly plows along:"It takes a good sto...
  • Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
    A good read most definitely. It wasn't faced paced though. Neither was life during the fifties and 1960 when the bulk of the book took place in the mid west. This was my first Doig and I'm confident it won't be my last, a copy of the Whistling Season is on my to do list. What we have here is a very knowledgeable and experienced writer who handles the characters of man and son in a way that makes you long for the old times before everything went a...
  • Kirstin
    If you haven’t read any other books by Ivan Doig I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one but for those of you who have read all his other books reading this one is like spending time with an old friend. I was a little worried for a bit that he was heading down the path that he did withRide With Me Mariah Montana but he pulled it back and kept the story telling to what was needed to drive the plot instead of letting the stories take over.
  • Dale
    Ivan Doig has again told a wonderful story. He is a great storyteller. The characters in the Bartender's Tale are believable and he has great characters throughout the story. Some are quirky characters just like real people in small town Montana or small town USA. I recommend this story by Ivan Doig or any of his other books. He does an amazing amount of research and has lived some the stories he tells. I haven't spoken with Ivan Doig for several...
  • Rogue
    I honestly had no idea what this book would be about when I picked it up. When I last went down to the library, the librarian was having a “blind date with a book”, and the only thing that I had to choose this book from was the line “My father was the best bartender who ever lived.”Not much to go on, but one of my friends picked it out for me, and so I read it.I found the narrative to be very entertaining, and the author did a fantastic j...
  • Michal
    One of those small, yet great stories. It is full of life and full of characters. A piece of history, 1 year of life of few people. It is very well written with some nice plot twists. It is all a gentle read for a nice winter evening. Highly recommend!
  • Carol
    I was slow to get into this tale, but it was well worth it to stick it out. Great characters, unusual story, and twists and turns. A perfect summer read.
  • Rebecca Douglass
    I've reviewed Doig's work before, and confessed that I consider him to be one of the best. I have always focused on Mr. Doig's use of language--which remains masterful. But this book struck me, as well, with his ability to create twists of events which strike the reader, as they do the characters, as both utterly unexpected and yet somehow inevitable. As I read, I think I see the unraveling coming from far back on the left, yet when it arrives it...
  • John
    A Magnificent Coming of Age Tale from Master Storyteller Ivan DoigNarrated in first person by an adult Russell “Rusty” Hardy looking back at the summer of 1960, when he is twelve years old, “The Bartender’s Tale” is an engrossing coming-of-age tale by someone who is both a superb storyteller and writer, Montana native Ivan Doig; this coming-of-age saga may be the most engrossing I have read in years. Doig weaves a most compelling and ca...
  • Tracy Murphy
    This is a classic coming of age story and family saga, with the narrator being the now adult son of Tom Harry, and bearing a little similarity to Doig himself in "The House of Sky" (my other forever favorite book). Every single character in this book I absolutely love and want to sit at the bar with for a long while, while Tom Harry pours me another "Shellac". Part of the reason I love this book is the nostalgia it dredges up for me...tagging alo...
  • Carolyn
    Ivan Doig is a marvelous storyteller, and he's in top form here. It's a coming-of-age story of Rusty the (mostly) 12-year-old son of Tom Harry, the world's best bartender. It's set in 1960 in a very small Montana town, where the establishment's clientele includes townsfolk, tourists passing through, sheepherders, and airmen who operate the Minuteman missile site nearby. Del from Washington DC turns up, collecting local history and dialects, and p...
  • Eyvonne
    I rec. this book via a GoodReads giveaway & loved it! I've read one other book ("The Whistling Season") by Ivan Doig and loved it as well. At this point, I've decided I have to read all his novels! How refreshing it was for me to read "The Bartender's Tale"! Ivan Doig is a wonderful story teller. I did not want this book to end. There is nothing predictable about this novel. The characters in this book are so well presented and developed that I f...