I don't know why it took me so long to discover Willa Cather. I read her "My Antonia" for one of my book clubs in recent years and enjoyed her writing style. She honors the simple, striving person in a harsh world. Her characters are gritty, long suffering, and self aware.
In this story, Thea recognizes and is recognized by those around her as someone different. Not in our mentally disturbed, troubled, quirky, weird focus of today, but as a person with a gift, a vision, a future different than the rest of us. She struggles in her youth to listen for her muse amidst the gaggle of siblings and daily life as a preacher's daughter in a small farming community. It's a simple story that allows the author to demonstrate the power of the human will.
Some quotes I noted:
Thea befriends the Mexicans on the "other side of the tracks" and after they are insulted by a local the author notes that "A Mexican learns to dive below insults or soar above them, after he crosses the border."
"The clamor about her drowned the voice within herself."
"Nothing is far and nothing in near, if one desires. The world is little, people are little ,human life is little. There is only one big thing--desire. And before it, when it is big, all is little."
"Ugly accidents happen, Thea; always have and always will. But the failures are swept back into the pile and forgotten. They don't leave any lasting scar in the world, and they don't affect the future. The things that last are the good things. The people who forge ahead and do something, they really count."
I don't know if I agree with that one. I've seen accidents have tragic, long-lasting effects that are never forgotten. I think Cather was championing those that persist despite setbacks.
"It came over him now that the unexpected favors of fortune, no matter how dazzling, do not mean very much to us. They may excite or divert us for a time, but when we look back, the only things we cherish are those which in some way met our original want, the desire which formed in us in early youth, undirected, and of it own accord."
"If our dream comes true, we are almost afraid to believe it; for that is the best of all good fortune, and nothing better can happen to any of us."
Published: 1915 Read: September 2014 Genre: Fiction