The writer Larry Woiwode knows America to be a land that will never truly renounce Christianity both Catholic and Protestant, and this is glowingly reflected in his fiction about the Neumiller family of North Dakota.
Much of this fiction is in the form of short stories like “The Suitor”, whose protagonist, Martin Neumiller, proposes marriage to Alpha Jones. Martin is a Catholic Christian who receives bad vibes from Alpha’s feisty, drunken father and shortsighted Protestant mother; but the standard attachment to a major institution—i.e. marriage—brings resolution. The parents are happy their daughter was proposed to.
The incidents in “Marie” take place many years later, after Alpha has passed on and Martin intends to remarry. Marie is the youngest child of the couple: she has grown up without a mother and knows she cannot possibly fill the woman’s shoes for the family (“I can’t do anything right”). Yet, as Marie points out, she is the one who’s alive, she is here, albeit Woiwode demonstrates his firm belief in God by making it seem that Alpha Neumiller is not really a person of the past. Somehow she lives too, her death not looked at through a nihilistic lens.
Woiwode is a man of faith whose prose is soothingly subtle and gently penetrating.
“The Suitor” and “Marie” can be found in his book The Neumiller Stories.