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Morrie Morgan, the colorful schoolteacher from Doig’s ’The Whistling Season’ is back in Montana after an absence of ten years. He arrives in Butte in 1919 to see what he can gain from ‘The Richest Hill on Earth.’ His bookkeeping skills first find use in the mortuary business; then at the public library where he finds a repository of fine volumes and an irascible director. Meanwhile, he finds lodging with widow Grace Faraday along with retired miners Hoop and Griff and meets up with former student from Marais Coulee, ‘Rabrab’ Rellis, now a Butte teacher. There’s more. The book’s rounded out with all kinds of characters! And, how Doig plays us along to the gripping climax is rich storytelling at its best. What Doig does so well he does again in this book that’s both a great story and one firmly placed in Butte’s copper mining story of immigrant miners and bosses, unions, the Wobblies, strikes and the toll it took on lives in ways seen and unseen. There’s even a little about baseball as the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Redlegs runs in the background, linking Morrie to his Chicago past. You get a dose of history, but a rollicking story when one is narrated by Morrie Morgan! These last two books by Doig now rank right up there to me with his ’Dancing at the Rascal Fair’ and ’English Creek,’ high praise.
posted Nov 8, 2010 at 8:20AM
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