As quintessentially American as Huckleberry Finn, Ivan Doig’s final novel is the 1950 saga of a young boy on the lam with an illegal immigrant—a German, no less—in the post WWII U.S. Chockfull of rollicking humor and blissfully good storytelling, Last Bus is not just a paean to this country as it existed half a century ago, but also as canny a look at American culture, language and morals as is Twain’s masterpiece to which it bears some intentional similarities: Boy and outcast journeying across the landscape, separated from the confines of so-called safe society with only one another to depend on. The difference being that the journey is not by raft but by bus, that prototypical American mode of transportation in the 1950s. Doig’s tale begins on the Double W Ranch in Montana, when 11-year-old Donal’s grandmother, ill and in need of surgery, sends Donal off to her sister halfway across the country in Wisconsin—by bus and by himself. Adventures abound as he meets scalawags and jailbirds, lovers and losers, the worst of which turns out to be his Aunt Kate herself. Before long Donal hits the road in the company of her German husband—who isn’t in fact her husband and who is so smitten by Western lore that all he wants from life is to see some cowboys and some Indians. Which they do as their trail takes them from middle America to the still-raw West—to powwows and rodeos and ranches and hobo camps in a book so purely involving and so much fun to read it’s easy to label it an American classic. As is Ivan Doig, the most engaging storyteller the West has ever known. – Betsy Burton
We want you to be in on our trip down memory lane too! So come to our 38th Birthday Party on Thursday, September 10th from 5-7 p.m. WITH AN OLD FAVORITE IN HAND. It can be an adult or a children’s book. Or, bring your own favorite novel and bring your child with his or her favorite book. It’s BYOB with a difference!
As you’ll see on the following pages, there are, as always, exciting new books just out or forthcoming—books that make us think and laugh and weep and see the world through others’ eyes. What we don’t always remember is that the same can be said for books from the past. Last year there was All the Light We Cannot See and Just Mercy. The year before, Life after Life and Benediction. The year before that, The Round House, Dog Stars, and Far from the Tree. The year before that Wolf Hall, and the year before, Cutting for Stone…. In all the years we’ve been in business, every single one has brought us new books to fall madly and passionately in love with, books we’ve raved to you about, books many of you have bought and read. But even our most rabid readers haven’t read them all—although most of these old loves of ours still reside on our shelves, as full of wonder as ever.
Therefore, on the occasion of our birthday we’ve decided to rekindle old passions in our hearts and yours, telling you about—and celebrating—authors you may have forgotten, books you may have only meant to read, and learning from you about your favorites. We were moved to do this first because the publication of Go Set a Watchman has refocused the attention of so many of our customers on To Kill a Mockingbird, which dozens of people have expressed gratitude for the prompt to revisit, and second because this has been a year of great loss in the world of books.
Three of our favorite authors, E.L. Doctorow, Ivan Doig, and Kent Haruf, left us this year. We’ve spent so many pleasurable hours over the decades thinking and writing and talking to all of you about their books—Ragtime, This House of Sky, Plainsong, just to begin with—and there is no better way to honor them than by keeping their books alive on our shelves and in your hearts.
Remember these stand-alone jewels by otherwise unknown authors: Rules for Old Men Waiting, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page and Turtle Diary? And what about Fugitive Pieces, The Lost Garden and The All of It? When we start talking about backlist titles we get excited. So, here’s the plan: We’ve chosen five books for each month—not five of our all-time-favorites but five you might not know that we love as much now as we did five or twenty-five years ago (click here to see our Backlist for Booklovers and click here to see our Backlist Favorites from TKE Children's Room). We want to remember, re-read, and re-introduce them to you, our friends and customers. And, we want to read yours—so don’t forget, BYOB!
See you on September 10th when old and new books alike will be 25% off all day long!
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