A Step from Death: A Memoir
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A Step from Death: A Memoir

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  25 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Larry Woiwode's literary fame began with his first novel, the 1969 classic What I’m Going to Do, I Think, and continued unabated through his brilliant 2000 memoir What I Think I Did. In this deeply affecting follow-up to the latter, Woiwode addresses his son as heir to his emotional interior. With vibrant wordcraft and a poetic sensibility, Woiwode begins his story by rela...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 28th 2008 by Counterpoint (first published February 28th 2007)
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James Murphy
Larry Woiwode has been quiet lately. There's been no novel since Indian Affairs in 1992. But his 2 volumes of memoirs published since then are wonderful and demonstrate--in case we'd forgotten--how well he can write. Reading something this fine can leave a feeling of elation in you that stays a long time. A Step from Death, the 2d volume of Woiwode's memoirs, is dedicated to and written as an address to his son, Joseph, who was stationed in Iraq at the time of writing. Woiwode's a North Dakota F...more
Perhaps the hardest books to write are those that hold themselves accountable to no conventional boundaries or forms. Those that permit time to spill across their pages -- backward, forward, a rush of movement, a sudden stilling, returns and retreats. Those in which one thought juts deeply into the core of another, in which elisions are story, in which one is at a loss to define a true end or beginning. Books like these cannot hold their readers, let alone survive themselves, unless they are per...more
The writing is decent, but the book lacks focus. It starts out being about near-death situations, then it becomes an address to the author's son, then it becomes a story about the author's career. The chronology is also a bit jumpy. He goes from speaking about one era to speaking about another without much of a transition. Engaging nonetheless, though.
Some spare beautiful moments, befitting a North Dakota landscape. Less clear is intent and scope and then at the end it hits a odd patch railing against the liberalism of universities and how we all would be better off in small, Christian universities. which made me distrust every page up until that point.
Holly Woodward
Wow, no one writes like Larry Woiwode, with such refined style but from a POV pushed to the edge. He writes so intensely of pain and so thoughtfully of the struggle to find one's way through difficult circumstances.
I just could not get into this book, despite my interest in the North Dakota area in which it takes place.
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Larry Woiwode was designated Poet Laureate of North Dakota by the Legislative Assembly in 1995. He served as Writer in Residence at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1973-74; and from 1983-88 was a tenured professor at the State University of New York, Binghamton, and director of its Creative Writing Program.

Larry Woiwode’s fiction has appeared in Antaeus, Antioch Review, Atlantic Monthly, GQ,...more
More about Larry Woiwode...
Beyond the Bedroom Wall What I'm Going to Do, I Think What I Think I Did: A Season Of Survival In Two Acts The Invention Of Lefse: A Christmas Story Words Made Fresh: Essays on Literature & Culture

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