Doig’s final book, Last Bus to Wisdom follows 11-year-old Donal Cameron in a coming-of-age journey across the west and back again. A transported Huck Finn, Donal inhabits 1950s Montana and instead of a river, finds his adventures on a “dog” bus. His fellow passengers include an astonishing array of villains and heroes and a runaway great uncle.
Characters spout insults – if brains were talcum powder, he wouldn’t have enough to sneeze – while the protagonist tells fibs and collects green stamps and autographs
If I have a complaint, its that the voice of Donal is much older and more mature. It is the echo of the man looking back at this pivotal journey rather than the wide-eyed awakening of a boy. Also, the cast of characters is so amazing – from cops and criminals to nuns and soldiers – that at times, it suspends belief.
Often compared to another western writer and author of a famous memoir, Wallace Stegner, Doig is less subtle but often more humorous.
If you are a fan of this prize-winning author, than this sweet farewell will please you. If you haven’t experienced Doig, may I suggest you start with my favorites, English Creek and its follow-on, Dancing at the Rascal Fair. Or join other Lemhi County readers at the February 18 installment of Lets Talk About It, where the scholar-led discussion reviews This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind.
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