Willa Cather

I downloaded an Audible version of "Death Comes for the Archbishop" recently, to listen to while I drive, paint, re-grout tile, or garden.  Why have I never read Willa Cather before now?  It's just wonderful.  Free, too, among Audible's collection of classics.  The title character is sent by the Vatican around 1850 to shepherd the newly American-owned territory of New Mexico.  What a pleasure it is to read an unsnarky though unsentimental treatment of missionary Catholicism--and the protagonist isn't even a depressed drunk, for a change.  Cather's narrative voice appeals to me deeply.


Gringo said...

I have read Death Comes to the Archbishop. My Antonia was one of my all-time favorite books, for a number of reasons which can be boiled down to one: Cather is very observant. As someone born and raised in the country, I appreciate her descriptions of landscape in both Archbishop and Antonia. She wrote of someone "baching it" - a bachelor running his own household- a phrase I have heard only from my grandmother of the Southern Plains, who was a generation younger than Cather. Cather's dialogue of an immigrant Czech saying "I want you should" reminded me that in my New England hometown I heard immigrant Poles saying the same.

I got the impression in My Antonia that Cather was writing about people I knew.

Texan99 said...

We say "baching" here all the time: we keep track of the neighbors whose spouses are out of town, to see if they want to come over for dinner.

"I want you should" has a Yiddish flavor to mean, and also sounds very familiar.

I agree about Cather's observant eye. I feel I've been plopped right down in Pueblo country. There's not a wasted character in this story; they're all drawn very deftly.

When I finish "Death Comes for the Archbishop" I have "My Antonia" spooled up on my phone.

Grim said...

That sounds like a great book.