cover image Heart Earth

Heart Earth

Ivan Doig. Scribner Book Company, $19 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-689-12137-1

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.'' (Sept.)