Montana on thenMovenby A. Carl Bredahl, Jr.nRide With Me, Mariah Montananby Ivan DoignNew York: Atheneum;n329 pp., $18.95nWith this latest novel, Ivan Doigncompletes his McCaskill trilogy,nbegun in 1984 with English Creek andnfollowed in 1987 with Dancing at thenRascal Fair. Ride With Me, MariahnMontana is good Doig, and thatnmeans readers can expect crisp dialogue,nrapid pace, vital language, andnmany satisfied- hours with this handsomenvolume from Atheneum.nBut Ivan Doig has always offerednreaders more than just a smooth story;nhe’ challenges both his readers andnhimself with his effort to pull togethernlanguage, people, space, and time.nThat effort continues in Mariah Montana,nproducing the book’s particularnfascination but, at the same time, creatingnproblems that ultimately make thisnparticular novel less satisfying than earliernofferings.nMariah Montana is Jick McCaskill’snfirst-person account of his travelsnwith his daughter Mariah (nicknamednMariah Montana by her college classmates),na photographer for the MissoulanMontanian, and her ex-husbandnRiley Wright, a journalist for the samennewspaper. As the state gears up for itsncentennial, Mariah and Riley are outnafter the unique, the essential Montana.nJick, now 65 years old, is along fornthe ride and to keep peace between thenformer lovers. If one plays through thatnbrief outline, the challenge and pleasurenof the book becomes clear: a worldncoming apart that wants desperately tonput itself back together.nIn 1989 Montana is no longer then1930’s environment readers were introducednto when they first met Jick innEnglish Creek. Ranchers are beingnREVIEWSnswallowed by big business. Fax machines,nmotor homes, and microwavenovens have become standard fare fornthe generation of Mariah and Riley. SonJick is more than just along for the ride;nhe is trying to understand the demisenof the Noon Creek ranch, the death ofnhis wife Marcella, and the brokennmarriage of his beloved Mariah. WhilenJick works with his problems, the visuallynoriented Mariah and the verbalnRiley try to unify their distinctivelyndifferent talents in capturing a sequencenof Montanas. The effort tonpool their skills, see both the unity andndiversity of the state, and once againnunify their lives in a second attempt atnmarriage is the struggle for visual/nverbal, female/male union. “Enumeratingnis one thing and making it all addnup is a hell of another.”nMariah Montana is good, but itnwould be a mistake to imply, as thendustjacket does, that this is Doig at hisnbest. So much is being attempted innthis latest work that the complexitynfrequently gets in the way of characterizationnand story. With the narrationngiven to Jick, the old man is continuallynreminded of previous scenes and earliernindividuals out of his life, and thenreader is continually reminded that thisnbook concludes a trilogy. Instead, fornexample, of developing Mariah, Jickngives us some information on Mariahnand on his remembered wife Marcella,nbut Marcella is a woman the reader hasnnever met and never does meet.nLike the individual episodes that willnperhaps comprise the essential Montana,nthe pieces that comprise Mariahnand Marcella — or Riley or Jick — havento struggle for integrated life. In ordernto make this book really work, we mustnfeel Jick’s pain at the loss of his wife,ndaughter, and ranch, but we have nevernmet the wife, never seen Jick as anrancher, and are always seeing Mariahnin relation to that absent wife. Thenstruggle for Jick and for the two journalistsnis to bring pieces together; thenstruggle for the reader is similar. Unlessnwe are convinced about Jick’s pain atnnnthe loss of Marcella or his tears at thendiscovery of letters revealing AngusnMcCaskill’s hopeless love, the scenesnsimply won’t carry the kind of powernsimilar scenes do in English Creek andnDancing at the Rascal Fair. As Mariahnand Riley discover, wanting to seenMontana or the past is not enough ifnthe disjunction of eye and word predominates.nFor those of us who like Ivan Doig’snwork. Ride With Me, Mariah Montananposes intriguing possibilities. It is annarrative whose focus is “home”; itnconcludes a trilogy whose focus isn”home.” And by its very nature, antrilogy itself provides a “home” fornboth author and reader. Setting out tondo a trilogy, a writer establishes a stablenbase within which he can remain fornthe years he spends with the trilogy.nReaders familiar with This House ofnSky know that “home” has always beenncentral to Doig’s work. In its very stabilitynand comfort, however, “home”ncan become a threat to maturationnand growth. With Mariah Montana,nthe trilogy ends, the Noon Creek ranchnis no longer the home of the McCaskills,nand the narrator departs in a motornhome. In the opening pages,nMariah tells Jick that all he wants to donis “mope off home to the ranch andnvegetate.” That threat seems to benvoided as Jick goes out with Riley’snmother at the end, but whether thatndeparture is promise of growth or retreatnto the long desired golden girlnremains an open question.nIt has problems, but Ride With Me,nMariah Montana is a rich conclusionnto the McCaskill trilogy and an integralnpart of the evolving Doig narrative. AsnJick tells Mariah, “it’s time to make lossninto change.”nA. Carl Bredahl, ]r. is an associatenprofessor of English at thenUniversity of Florida. He is thenauthor of Melville’s Angles ofnVision and New Ground:nWestern American Narrativenand the Literary Canon.nDECEMBER 1990/35n