Cover image for Born brothers
Born brothers
Woiwode, Larry.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988.
Physical Description:
pages cm
General Note:
"Michael di Capua books."
Format :

On Order



Focuses on the seemingly idyllic relationship between two brothers, Jerome and Charles, that, over a period of more than twenty years, takes on growing overtones of competitiveness, buried sexuality, and self-destruction.

Author Notes

Larry Woiwode was born in Carrington, North Dakota on October 30, 1941. He went to the University of Illinois, but did not graduate. His short stories and poetry appeared in several magazines including Harper's, Partisan Review, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker. His first novel, What I'm Going to Do, I Think, was published in 1969. His other novels included Beyond the Bedroom Wall: A Family Album, Poppa John, Born Brothers, and Indian Affairs. His short story collections include The Neumiller Stories and Silent Passengers. He also wrote a collection of poems entitled Even Tide. He was named North Dakota Poet Laureate in 1995.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

First met in Beyond the Bedroom Wall, Jerome and Charles Neumiller are the focus of this monumental novel that conveys the brothers' symbiotic bond and the mixture of love, resentment, competitiveness and protectiveness that distinguishes their relationship. Charles narrates the interlocking segments, moving back and forth in setting, between North Dakota, Illinois amd New York, and in time, from childhood to adult years. Often elliptical and oblique, and initially somewhat confusing, the vignettes gain strength and resonance as they cumulatively depict the events of the brothers' lives. Woiwode is adept at evoking the early impressions, misapprehensions and fears of childhood, as well as its tender or exciting moments; the sexual stirrings, small triumphs and humiliations of adolescence; the subtle undercurrents of family life. His language pulses with energy and stinging images. Some long scenes could stand on their own: a fire that threatens to engulf a small town; stunned relatives coming together in grief when the boys' mother dies; a car accident that unrolls in agonizing slow motion. The narrative coalesces into a composite, many-dimensioned portrait that chronicles other milestones in the Neumillers' lives. While Jerome achieves a stable marriage and professional success as a physician, for Charles, after early promise as a radio personality, there is a downward spiral of drugs and alcohol, marital breakup, a suicide attempt. The story is permeated with references to the family's Catholic faith, once a source of strength to Charles, but increasingly of elusive comfort as a disappointment and despair threaten to overwhelm him. Although the accretion of its many scenes add to the power of this novel, there are times when Woiwode seems self-indulgent in his inclusion of material. Despite the occasional slackening of dramatic momentum, however, most readers will be willingly drawn into the narrative as Woiwode explores the mysterious patterns of human existence. (August) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Charles Neumillerdivorced, alcoholic, out of workrelives his North Dakota boyhood in an endless series of bittersweet, whiskey-induced flashbacks. Every sensory impression from these formative years is vividly recalled, every episode in the ongoing psychodrama between Charles and his older brother Jerome is replayed. Sporadically, the narrative refocuses on the present, and we see Charles blowing jobs, sneaking drinks, and holing up in cheap hotels. These infrequent awakenings stand out as the most interesting chapters in a work that otherwise seems to sink under the weight of period detail. While not absolutely necessary, familiarity with the acclaimed Beyond the Bedroom Wall , the first installment of this huge family saga, will help readers decipher the second. Larger fiction collections will want both. Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.