This House of Sky

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Winter in Montana is close at hand: the snow is falling on the valley floor, the mountain peaks are solid white and each morning this week, public radio has announced a winter weather warning for much of Montana. Fall gives way to snowflakes.

Our winter season is long-lasting and we thought we’d share with you just one way (besides playing in the snow) we like to spend our shorter days, inside, nestled by the fire: reading.

There’s one very special book that prompted Sarah to pay a visit to White Sulphur Springs and eventually fall in love with this small ranching town and make it her home. So, if you’re up for a great read and want a more intimate glimpse at life in White Sulphur Springs, Red Ants Pants brings you our falling into winter book recommendation: This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind by Ivan Doig.

This House of Sky is Doig’s powerful and haunting memoir of growing up in White Sulphur Springs, among sheep herders, small ranches, and the many bars that line Main Street. Written in the late 1970s, Doig chronicles his life growing up in the small Montana town, of his life spent with his restless sheep herding father and his relationship with his grandmother, Bessie. This House of Sky is a beautifully written story: not only does it describe the wildness and remoteness of life in White Sulphur Springs in the late 30s and 40s but also is an exploration into a bond that ties father, son, and grandmother together among ranching jobs, bad marriages, falling in love, and how the sense of landscape shapes and guides a person. 

Doig is considered one of Montana’s finest writers and honestly, a fine American novelist. We suggest you start with his memoir and then continue to fall into his other books that celebrate and explore the lives of Montanans and life amongst the peaks of the Rocky Mountain Front .

If I have any creed that I wish you as readers, necessary accomplices in this flirtatious ceremony of writing and reading, will take with you from my pages, it’d be this belief of mine that writers of caliber can ground their work in specific land and lingo and yet be writing of that larger country: life.

–Ivan Doig

We encourage you this winter to discover White Sulphur Springs through the pages of This House of Sky.

Happy reading!

 And…tell us what books are on your shelf during the holiday season!

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