SHE NEEDED ME by Walter Kirn


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Kirn's first novel relies on the same plain style and midwestern sensibility that characterized his collection of stories, My Hard Bargain (1990). It's a timely melodrama about faith and apostasy set against a bleak landscape of dying farms and bland city-life. Weaver Wolquist, a 26-year-old born-again Christian, meets Kim Lindgren, a 23-year-old aspiring greeting-card illustrator, outside a St. Paul abortion clinic. A few months pregnant, Kim decides against the operation after confronting the prostrate Weaver, a ""very proud"" member of the anti-abortion group ""The Conscience Squad."" Impressed by Weaver's sincerity, Kim eventually befriends the former drugged-out head-banger, himself ""saved"" by the charismatic Lucas Barnes, a Prozac-popping strategist and proselytizer for the Bryce St. Church of God. Despite his religious certainty, Weaver is a reluctant salesman of Christian beauty products, and instead relies on an allowance from his widowed mother, a successful businesswoman in Wisconsin. As ""circumstances"" begin to overtake ""beliefs,"" Weaver chastely pursues his mission with Kim over the objections of the paranoid Lucas. A trip to the Lindgren family farm in North Dakota is meant to convince Kim of her righteous decision not to abort. Instead, Weaver finds her family as dysfunctional and craven as any he's met--from Kim's angry ""motorhead"" brother to her selfish parents, rich on government set-asides. The celibate Weaver finally consummates his love for kim, breaks all ties with the increasingly violent Lucas, has a reconciliation with his mother, and acknowledges he's no one's savior. As much about spiritual hunger as the abortion controversy, Kirn's straight-talking fiction contributes greatly to our understanding of the antinomian tendencies in American fundamentalism. Its very simplicity also makes it a perfect candidate for the screen.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster