The Neumiller Stories

Larry Woiwode, Author
Larry Woiwode, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $18.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-22061-7
Reviewed on: 11/28/1989
Release date: 12/01/1989
Ten of these 13 strong, insightful stories by North Dakota-born novelist Woiwode ( What I'm Going to Do, I Think ) first appeared in the New Yorker from 1964-1972. Portraying the German immigrant Neumiller family, these stories were extensively revised and became the novel Beyond the Bedroom Wall. Depicting an arduous prairie life, the tales are about birth, domesticity and death. In the expansive, quietly stunning ``Burila,'' a son washes his father's body and fashions his coffin. ``Beyond the Bedroom Wall'' shows a boy exchanging a look of deep recognition with his mother as she sews, shortly before she dies in childbirth. Women's work is invested with a sacramental gravity: furnishing a home (``The Old Halvorson Place''), the mere lifting of earthenware from a dishpan (``Deathless Lovers'') are acts of grace that seem to connect with giving physical, emotional and artistic life. So too, a Guatemalan servant in ``She'' (one of the three previously uncollected stories, written in the '80s) evokes the narrator's boyhood and affects him like ``a story's annealed and wordless core.'' (Dec.)
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