cover image Ride with Me, Mariah Montana

Ride with Me, Mariah Montana

Ivan Doig. Atheneum Books, $18.95 (324pp) ISBN 978-0-689-12019-0

Spurred by the 1989 centennial of Montana's statehood, moody widower Jick McCaskill, turning 65, criss-crosses the state in a Winnebago with his photographer daughter, strong-willed, feisty Mariah, and her ex-husband, Riley, a reporter. In this crowning volume of a trilogy, which includes English Creek and Dancing at the Rascal Fair , Doig again displays a masterly skill in depicting the American West which few writers match. Instead of patriotic hoopla, the canvas is dotted with failing ranches, oil pumps clanking away in farmed fields, Montanans tensely poised between an uncertain future and a frontier past. Jick, who narrates this road story with brash humor, faces two emotional crises: Mariah precipitously announces plans to remarry Riley; and Leona, Riley's mother, who once had an ill-fated fling with Jick's dead brother, joins the caravan. This entertaining ramble adroitly blends travelogue, family drama, history and newspaper lore. (Sept.)