Work Song

Work Song

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
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An award-winning and beloved novelist of the American West spins the further adventures of a favorite character, in one of his richest historical settings yet.

"If America was a melting pot, Butte would be its boiling point," observes Morrie Morgan, the itinerant teacher, walking encyclopedia, and inveterate charmer last seen leaving a one-room schoolhouse in Marias Coulee, the stage he stole in Ivan Doig's 2006 The Whistling Season . A decade later, Morrie is back in Montana, as the beguiling narrator of Work Song .

Lured like so many others by "the richest hill on earth," Morrie steps off the train in Butte, copper-mining capital of the world, in its jittery heyday of 1919. But while riches elude Morrie, once again a colorful cast of local characters-and their dramas-seek him out: a look-alike, sound-alike pair of retired Welsh miners; a streak-of-lightning waif so skinny that he is dubbed Russian Famine; a pair of mining company goons; a comely landlady propitiously named Grace; and an eccentric boss at the public library, his whispered nickname a source of inexplicable terror. When Morrie crosses paths with a lively former student, now engaged to a fiery young union leader, he is caught up in the mounting clash between the iron-fisted mining company, radical "outside agitators," and the beleaguered miners. And as tensions above ground and below reach the explosion point, Morrie finds a unique way to give a voice to those who truly need one.

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Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2010
ISBN: 9781594487620
Branch Call Number: FIC Doig
Characteristics: 275p

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KCLSCarrie Aug 03, 2017

Follow up to The Whistling Season, good for readers who like eccentric casts of characters and character-based Westerns. Morris Morgan arrives in Butte, Montana, the copper mining capital of the world, and after landing a job at the public library, discovers that "Peculiar characters are drawn to a library like bees to a flower garden."

d
donnawm
Apr 14, 2016

Kind of slow-moving and not much plot or rising action....I like other books by Doig MUCH better.

b
BurtonP
Feb 22, 2016

A scholarly nerd goes to a mining town, works in a library and helps create a minor's strike sound. Pages and pages of boring dialogue make this so much less interesting than the book, 'Whistling Season'.

g
GummiGirl
Jan 31, 2016

Very enjoyable: it makes me eager to read the sequel, Sweet Thunder. Having been to Butte made me appreciate it even more.

l
lpodell
Mar 29, 2014

Recent books are just ok. So disappointing

h
hello48
Jan 01, 2014

This is another good one by Ivan Doig -- great story & great writing.

mrsgail5756 Nov 13, 2012

The Book was okay – but not one of my favorites.

e
EmilyEm
Nov 08, 2010

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.

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