Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan DoigThis was the first book I’ve read by Ivan Doig....the last book he wrote before he died......an endearing book.
The story takes place in 1951, a year before I was born.
Twelve year old Donal Cameron had been living with his grandmother after his parents died years before in a car accident. But now his grandmother needs to have some surgery and she thinks he is old enough to travel alone on the greyhound bus to go stay with his aunt Kate - grandmother’s sister.
Aunt Kate has no children of her own - but she is living with a man named Herman Brinker. ( Herman the German)
From the moment Donal got on his first bus- with chatty ladies and other colorful characters .....I knew I was about to experience the joy of Ivan Doug’s storytelling.
Donal ends up liking Herman much more than Aunt Kate ( we do too). Herman has always wanted to see ‘the west’ .....so he and Donal leave Aunt Kate at home and take their own bus adventure together: much fun camping in Yellowstone National Park .....with Indian history along the way. Eventually they make it back to see Donal’s grandmother.
This is a bittersweet- charming- goofy at times- mini-suspenseful story. Filled with laughter, adventure, great dialogue, relationship connections. Every emotion is felt at one time or another.....showing us much love and humanity. I can see why Ivan Doug had die-hard fans. He was a very talented writer.
“The Bus to Wisdom”, is told through the eyes of young boy .....exploring the world on a bus...adventure on the road - ( the wisdom life teaches).
Life doesn’t get much more wholesome & wonderful than this...for any growing child.
Beware......reading this creates a warm heart - chuckles and smiles.
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Last Bus to Wisdom
There Donal is in for a rude surprise: Aunt Kate—bossy, opinionated, argumentative, and tyrannical—is nothing like her sister. After one contretemps too many, Kate packs him back to the authorities in Montana on the next Greyhound. In the immortal American tradition, the pair light out for the territory together, meeting a classic Doigian ensemble of characters and having rollicking misadventures along the way. Charming, wise, and slyly funny, Last Bus to Wisdom is a last sweet gift from a writer whose books have bestowed untold pleasure on countless readers. From the publisher. Ivan Doig was born in Montana to a family of home-steaders and ranch hands.
Last Bus to Freedom Discussion Points The opening chapter of Last Bus begins with grown-up Donal reflecting on the cross-country adventures he had as a boy — the adventures he's about to relay to us. What role does memory play in the novel? So much of Last Bus is picaresque and even fantastical, from Herman's version of the wild, wild, West, to Donal's constant "storying," — is memory at all conflated with imagination? In what ways? Doig was a master wordsmith known for his colorful descriptions, pitch-perfect ear for dialogue and larger-than-the-page characters. Discuss the role that language plays in the novel. How does Doig bring his cast of characters to life?
Thank you! Two long-distance bus trips give an year-old new horizons and run a lively gamut through midth-century American life.
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By the time he died in April at age 75 , Ivan Doig had created a body of work that helped shape our understanding of rural working-class life in the postwar American West. Partly because of this emphasis, his work has been hit or miss for me. Donal, raised by his grandmother on a Montana ranch, finds himself packed off to relatives in Manitowoc, Wis. The journey passes pleasantly enough, thanks to the huge cast of characters hopping on and off. In Manitowoc, Donal comes under the harness of Aunt Kate, a meanspirited woman who takes to boy-raising like a fish to furniture.