Ivan Doig’s companion memoir to his bestselling This House of Sky—inspired by the letters his mother wrote during World War II—is “a lyrical evocation of the Doigs’ gallantly hardscrabble existence and love for the unforgiving Montana mountains” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Raised by his father and maternal grandmother, Ivan Doig grew up with only a vague memory of his mother, who died on his sixth birthday. Then he discovered a cache of her letters, and through them, a spunky, passionate, can-do woman emerged. His mother was as at home in the saddle as behind a sewing machine, and as in love with language as her son.
In this prize-winning prequel to his acclaimed memoir This House of Sky, Doig brings to life his childhood before his mother’s death, and the family’s journey from the Montana mountains to the Arizona desert and back again. “Profoundly original and lustrous,” (Kirkus Reviews) Doig eloquently captures the texture of the American West during and after World War II, the fortune of a family, and one woman’s indomitable spirit. Doig is “a colloquial stylist without equal…and Heart Earth is a book that repeatedly proves the power of language” (Los Angeles Times).
In poetic and precise prose, Doig has crafted a worthy complement to his acclaimed memoir, This House of Sky. While that book concerned family tensions after his mother Berneta's death in 1945, here, prompted by a cache of his mother's letters to her sailor brother from that year, Doig recreates a life ``the five-year-old dirtmover that was me'' could hardly have known. He describes life in an Arizona housing project for defense workers, where his family moved to spare his mother's asthma. He tracks down his Uncle Wally's old beau, about whom his mother wrote. He recalls the battle between his grandmother and father over his mother's medical condition, ``the geography of risk'' and the family move back to Montana ranching. Doig's writing is immensely quotable--listening to his elders was ``prowling with your ears.'' What makes this book so touching is that, through letters, Doig realizes how much he, the writer, owes to ``this earlier family member who wordworked.''