WOIWODE, LARRY (b. 1941)
Even though Larry Woiwode moved out of North Dakota when he was eight and did not return to live there until 1978, he is imbued with the "Dakota mystique"–a sense of awe at the vast land, a need for family and community, and an awareness of and a faith in God that helps people there survive. Two of his novels (Beyond the Bedroom Wall: A Family Album, 1975; Born Brothers, 1988), a number of his short stories, and some of his poems focus on North Dakota people and on the Northern Plains experience. Whether a specific work is set in North Dakota or not, a sense of place, of family, and of God permeates Woiwode's writing, especially in his semi-autobiographical Beyond the Bedroom Wall. One reads this novel as if paging through a family picture album full of places, biographical vignettes, fragments of memories, and longer reminiscences that leave the reader curious about the characters and incidents recorded in the "snapshots." Parts 1 and 2, set in rural North Dakota, trace the history of the family through four generations, until they move to Illinois.
As of 1998, Woiwode had written three other novels (What I'm Going to Do, I Think, 1969; Poppa John, 1981; Indian Affairs, 1992), two volumes of short stories (The Neumiller Stories, 1989; Silent Passengers, 1993), and two of poetry (Poetry North: Five Poets of North Dakota, 1970; Even Tide, 1977). In addition to published interviews, Woiwode has short stories, poems, and nonfiction pieces that have not yet been collected. Woiwode is a careful craftsman, a compelling storyteller, and a stylist with a gift for both lyrical and precise expression.
Denis R. Fournier University of Mary
Gardner, John. "The Family of a Man and the Family of Man." Review of Beyond the Bedroom Wall: A Family Album, by Larry Woiwode. New York Times Book Review, September 28, 1975, 1–2.
Quantic, Diane Dufva. The Nature of the Place: A Study of Great Plains Fiction. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.