Montana on the Move

With this latest novel, Ivan Doig completes his McCaskill trilogy, begun in 1984 with English Creek and followed in 1987 with Dancing at the Rascal Fair. Ride With Me, Mariah Montana is good Doig, and that means readers can expect crisp dialogue, rapid pace, vital language, and many satisfied- hours with this handsome volume from Atheneum.

But Ivan Doig has always offered readers more than just a smooth story; he' challenges both his readers and himself with his effort to pull together language, people, space, and time. That effort continues in Mariah Montana, producing the book's particular fascination but, at the same time, creating problems that ultimately make this particular novel less satisfying than earlier offerings.

Mariah Montana is Jick McCaskill's first-person account of his travels with his daughter Mariah (nicknamed Mariah Montana by her college classmates), a photographer for the Missoula Montanian, and her ex-husband Riley Wright, a journalist for the same newspaper. As the state gears up for its centennial, Mariah and Riley are out after the unique, the essential Montana. Jick, now 65 years old, is along for the ride and to keep peace between the former lovers. If one plays through that brief outline, the challenge and pleasure of the book becomes clear: a world coming apart that wants desperately to put itself back together.

In 1989 Montana is...

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