A Step from Death: A Memoir

A Step from Death: A Memoir

by Larry Woiwode

Paperback(First Trade Paper Edition)

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In this deeply affecting memoir, Larry Woiwode addresses his son as heir to his emotional interior. With beautiful language and a poet’s sensibility, Woiwode begins his story by relating a near-death experience with a malfunctioning hay baler—the kind of mistake that can kill a novice farmer. This episode launches a delicately woven series of memories, from snippets of Woiwode’s days in New York as a young writer working with the late great William Maxwell, to his days as a young father, husband, and teacher trying to scrape enough together to buy a ranch in western North Dakota, and finally to the prospect of an empty nest and the step from death that he finds rapidly approaching.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781582434698
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Publication date: 02/17/2009
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

I Reckonings

1 In the Lion's Mouth 3

2 A Temporary Escape 20

3 Erasure 37

4 Homestead 54

5 Light in the Land 71

6 Sonship 88

7 Child as Father 105


1 The Skinny 125

2 The Film Hits 134

II Swing Points

8 Father as Child 149

9 In Community 166

10 A Poet's Place 182

11 Not Giving In 200

12 Giving It Away 217

13 Nutshell Kingdom 234

14 In Another Place 251

Coda 267

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Step From Death 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
TimBazzett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second Woiwode memoir I've read. Neither are "easy" reads. You have to pay pretty close attention to follow the circuitous paths of Woiwode's logic and writing style, which often seems unnecessarily elaborate and labyrinthian. But the effort pays off in the anecdotes he offers about his realtionships with his father (his mother died when he was nine) and his son. Woiwode is speaking throughtout the narrative to his son, Joseph, who was an army helicopter pilot in Iraq as he was writing this. There are also more stories here about Woiwode's long friendship with William Maxwell, who was the fiction editor at The New Yorker magazine. And anecdotes about other writers abound too, as was true in his first memoir, What I Think I Did. I was particularly taken with a story about Jim Harrison and pal Tom McGuane who came to do some bird hunting on some property Woiwode was renting in Michigan. You get the definite impression that Woiwode is a perfectionist in his writing to the point of obsessive compulsive disorder, as he documents a couple of near breakdowns trying to complete his magnum opus, Beyond the Bedroom Wall. Marital complications and separations are also given space here and Woiwode holds little back. Tempted as I was at times to simply toss the book aside, I'm glad I finished it. It's worth the slog. I may try to find Beyond the Bedroom Wall, if only because the book seems to have come close to killing its author. Larry Woiwode sounds like a very interesting guy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Larry Woiwode steps into non-fiction with "A Step from Death: A Memoir". Highly readable biography from a realist novelist who forsook New York for a farm in North Dakota.Woiwode is one of a kind and so is this book.