Reading Guide for Bucking the Sun by Ivan Doig About the book
It is 1938. A Ford truck is pulled from the Missouri River at Fort Peck Dam. Two unnamed Duffs are claimed by the river, and we follow the thread of their fate, eager to learn who, and why, as the clan pushes on against the circumstances. Thus begins Bucking the Sun,
a wonderfully suspenseful novel about the Depression era when FDR was president and the New Deal prevailed. Bucking the Sun
is a fascinating chronicle of the explosion of construction towns, the building of the mammoth Fort Peck Dam and the displaced Duff family, whose farm is lost and whose legacy is to survive a changing America, amid their tangled love affairs and clashing politics. Discussion points
- While based on the actual building of the Fort Peck Dam, Bucking the Sun is a work of fiction. At what point does the novel depart from fact to imagination? What liberties does Doig take that an author of non-fiction could not?
- Describe the structure of Bucking the Sun. Discuss Doig's literary voice, as well as his use of flashback. What is the author's purpose in these italic "back stories"?
- How do the shantytown settings and the emerging Fort Peck Dam summon the themes in Bucking the Sun?
- Doig has populated his novel equally with female and male characters -- Meg and Hugh, Bruce and Kate, Rosellen and Neil, Owen and Charlene, Prox