To honor the late beloved author Ivan Doig, Riverhead Books and independent bookstores around the Northwest are planning Ivan Doig Day celebrations to coincide with the publication of his upcoming novel Last Bus to Wisdom. The book is due out on August 18 and so far, according to Riverhead publicist Glory Plata, nine stores are officially participating in Ivan Doig Day.
"We knew we wanted to do something to honor Ivan, but the big question was how we would do it," explained Plata. "We kept coming back to the fact that Ivan was beloved by booksellers nationwide. What better way to celebrate his life and this new novel than at the places and with the people who loved and shared his art?"
The nine stores that have signed on for Ivan Doig Day are: Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, Wash. (which is co-hosting the event at the Seattle Central Library); Montana Book & Toy Company in Helena, Mont.; Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Mont.; Fact & Fiction in Missoula, Mont.; Powell's in Portland, Ore.; Book Passage in San Francisco, Calif.; Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Wash.; Parkplace Books in Kirkland, Wash.; and the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah. A 10th store, Village Books in Bellingham, Wash., will also be hosting an Ivan Doig tribute, but in September instead of on August 18.
The exact plans for Ivan Doig Day differ from store to store, but most involve guests reading parts of Last Bus to Wisdom as well as passages from their favorite Ivan Doig novels, discussions of Doig's body of work and personal stories about Doig. Riverhead has sent a kit to participating stores that includes commemorative buttons featuring a photo of Doig and the phrase "Born to Raise Heck," a large poster and a finished copy of Last Bus to Wisdom for display. Additionally, Riverhead plans to help cover costs for any refreshments at events.
At the Seattle Central Library event, planned guests include poet Linda Bierds, historian David Laskin and author Annie Proulx. Myra Platt, the co-artistic director of Seattle's Book-It Repertory Theatre and the star of Book-It's stage adaptation of Doig's novel Prairie Nocturne, will perform songs composed for that production. According to Chris Higashi, the program manager for the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library, Doig read there twice: in September 2012 for The Bartender's Tale, when he drew an overflow crowd of some 400 people, and in September 2013 for Sweet Thunder.
Fact & Fiction will host its Ivan Doig Day celebration at Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery in Missoula. Doig, who was born and raised in Montana, dedicated his 1980 nonfiction book Winter Brothers: A Season at the Edge of America to "the Missoula Gang," a group of 26 friends and acquaintances from his time there; for the Fact & Fiction event, all 13 members of the Missoula Gang who are still in the area have been invited.
"With each book his audience and his reputation increased," said Barbara Theroux, owner of Fact & Fiction. "He was always fun, always quite the gentleman. You could tell his heart and soul were in Montana. He was always a wonderful author to host."
At Book Passage's Ferry Building store in San Francisco, there will be readings and discussions of Last Bus to Wisdom as well as Doig's past work. Janis Cooke Newman, author of A Master Plan for Rescue; Cyra McFadden, author of Rain or Shine; Andy Weiner, sales rep for Abrams; and Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, will lead off the readings.
"It's going to be a great celebration," said Elaine Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage. "We had really amazing events with him. For most authors, we have events in one store or the other. For Sweet Thunder we had one in both stores. It breaks my heart that he's no longer with us, but what a body of work he left behind."
Anne Holman, co-owner of the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, plans to showcase on August 18 various first edition copies of Doig's books, complete with handwritten notes, as well as the typewritten letters he sent out over the years. Betsy Burton, also a co-owner of the King's English, will give an introductory talk about Doig, and Holman hopes that guests will share their memories of Doig and read passages from their favorite books.
"The long-term goal is to not just have a party for him that night, but to keep his books in people's minds and make sure they're always available," said Holman. "That seems like the best tribute we could give him." --Alex Mutter