Welcome to Willa Cather reading week. Today would have been Willa Cather’s 141st birthday. So over the next seven days lots of readers will be reading Willa Cather novels and stories in celebration. Born in Virginia, Willa Cather grew up in Nebraska where some of her most famous and loved novels and stories are set.
Working for magazines and journals took her to Pittsburgh and New York, and following some poetry in 1903, Willa Cather published her first collection of short stories; The Troll Garden in 1905. In 1912 came her first novel Alexander’s Bridge. Following that, her Prairie Trilogy, O! Pioneers, The Song of the Lark and My Antonia, depict the life and landscapes she knew growing up in Red Cloud Nebraska. In 1922 Cather won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for her World War 1 novel One of Ours. Many of Cather’s work feature artists of one kind or another, musicians and singers feature strongly. There appears to have been a time when Willa Cather’s work was viewed as being too nostalgic and out of step with the world, but now I think she is generally regarded as one of the great writers to have come out of America, and is read and re-read with great affection. For me one of the things I have come to love about Willa Cather’s writing is the way she captures the landscapes of her Nebraskan home. She writes just as well about New York, Chicago or London, but it is the images of those Nebraskan prairies that stay with me. And trains, is it just me or does she love the romance of the train? A railway siding on a snowy evening, she captures so evocatively.
I began my Willa Cather reading week a few days early – so I may be having a Willa Cather ten days instead – with the Troll Garden and Selected stories on my kindle – review in a day or two. I am now into A Lost Lady – the opening paragraph captured me immediately (I think I may have read it before- but so long ago that I have no memory of it).
Make sure you all check back here on Wednesday – when I will be giving you details of a little giveaway for which we must thank the lovely people of Oxford University Press who sent me two lovely copies to give away.
In the meantime, if any bloggers out there review Willa Cather books or blog about the reading week in general please let me know, you can link to your post in the comments here or in the original Willa Cather reading week post. At the end of the week – or more likely a day or two later I will post a little round up – and would love to include as many people in it as possible. If you are not a blogger, I would still love to know what you’re experiences of reading Willa Cather have been, via blog comments, Twitter (#willaCatherreadingweek), whatever. Most of all and more importantly of course, I hope all of you reading Willa Cather this week, enjoy whatever you choose and I can’t wait to see which Cather books get chosen.