The recent blog topic is gay or lesbian writers who changed our lives; Willa Cather changed my life for the better at 15 years old. I always imagined her as a masculine lesbian with baggie pants a crew cut and a ponderous belly. She had wanted to be a doctor as her first choice of profession. She might have been slim and fit but in my imagination fueled by my teacher at the times she seemed to revel in her cigarettes and boyish mannerisms. I liked that about her. "My Neighbor Rosicky", the short story I read in my 10th grade honors English Class. A story about a plains farmer who had a great ability to love people. This story fed my eagle eye to spot the same name on a novel "My Antonia", another book about how we are shaped by the people who love us. The lines that stick in my mind from that short story are Rosicky had strange three cornered eyes that were caught up at the top and the neighboring farm had evidence of unhappiness. How could Willa convey so much knowledge about a good life and a bad life by comparing a fenceline? I started wondering about this and other mysteries at 15. Crossroads are where before modern times they buried the suicides. The juxtipositions of having to explain something complicated. She seemed to be able to tell complicated stories without a suicide. I am not put-off by grit. I am just eye rollingly not impressed by James Frey rich kid well connected types cashing in on the lurid story of the day. Although, terrnbly clever is fun. Just ask Billy Wilder writing that part for Joan Crawford, the monkey and "I am ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille". Also plenty of boring writers upchucking their work experiences or personal lives. That is called gossip. What is great is when this is transormed into another dimension. Anyone can regurgetate the facts only a few can do it in an interesting manner with creativity and fun.
What I loved best about "My Antonia", was it was a story about loving someone and witnessing their lives. And how at the end when someone sets their mind to it they come out all-right. The scene where someone who loves her comes and visits her in her middle age and finds her children all burst out of a cellar. Like a kind surprise. And he wants to give them something. Something that this person sadly could never find. Probally the Willa character in the story. I loved trying to place what character might have been her in the books. So those where my hooks or introductions to Willa Cather. Her simple stories about grace and beauty and awakenings. She didn't need to resort to public confession. The things we see today about spilling the beans. Spilling and spilling and even adding a few beans enhance the focus of attention. Willa wrote crisply, cleanly, without the lurid xxxx-mucking we see everywhere today. Willa had class. The book, "The Song of the Lark", meant so much to me. As she said like a Swedish Summer. The main character is described as being slightly better formed than the others by her mother and she is influenced by the music of the Mexicans who live in her plains town and with a small insurance policy goes off to study classical music in Chicago and becomes an Opera star. What I loved best about her talent was how she brought us back to the small town where Thea grew up and how they remembered her as as a child pulling a wagon; because small towns have long memories. Thea's rather dithering aunt being included. Great stories based on beautiful writing and special observations and intelligence . Not Romans gathering around the vomitorium ready to start the vomit cycle once again. Willa I hope I can do as well.