She Needed Me

Walter Kirn, Author, Kirn, Author, Judith Regan, Editor Atria Books $20 (240p) ISBN 978-0-671-78091-3
The narrator of this ironic first novel, Weaver Walquist, a born-again Christian and member of a militant anti-abortion group, slowly falls in love with Kim Lindgren, a pregnant junior college dropout whom he meets at a St. Paul, Minn., abortion clinic. Weaver, once a devotee of pot and heavy-metal music, wants to rescue Kim from sin by persuading her to keep the baby rather than have an abortion. This self-righteous zealot has an overwhelming need to control and dominate women; he seethes with repressed rage at his domineering mother, Margaret, a widow who runs a Wisconsin liquor store and sends him a monthly check. In spare, nervous prose, Kirn (author of a story collection, My Hard Bargain ) succeeds brilliantly in fathoming the mindset of a moralistic misogynist, but Weaver's harrowing, bleak vision casts a pall over the whole novel. Weaver's violent showdown with Lucas Boone, a Prozac-popping, knife-wielding paranoid and rapist who heads the anti-abortion squad, signals the protagonist's leap to freedom and his last-minute realization that Kim, and every woman, has the right to have control over her own body. Kim, a greeting-card designer, is not a very interesting figure, and her disapproving parents, who own a North Dakota dairy farm, are self-centered nincompoops who belie the stereotypes of wholesome farmers. Kirn's shrewd insight into Weaver's motivations saves this timely melodrama from didacticism, but just barely. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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