The Willa Cather Short Story Reading Project
In addition to being a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Willa Cather was also a writer of short stories. Over the years I’ve read some of her short stories but never seem to follow-through on reading as many as I’d like to (which is ALL OF THEM).
So I’m setting out to read one short story a month beginning in February 2019. I’d love to have the company of other readers on this reading journey — for the whole thing, or dipping in here and there.
Phase I: Reading the Vintage Classics Collected Stories
The initial goal is to read the 20 selections in the Vintage Classics edition of Cather’s short stories. Most of the stories in this collection are those Cather published in book form.
Here is the table of contents/reading schedule:
THE TROLL GARDEN (1905)
- Flavia and Her Artists, February 2019
- The Garden Lodge, March 2019
- The Marriage of Phaedra, April 2019
YOUTH AND THE BRIGHT MEDUSA (1920)
- Coming, Aphrodite!, May 2019
- The Diamond Mine, June 2019
- A Gold Slipper, July 2019
- Scandal, August 2019
- Paul’s Case, September 2019
- A Wagner Matinée, October 2019
- The Sculptor’s Funeral, November 2019
- “A Death in the Desert”, December 2019
OBSCURE DESTINIES (1932)
- Neighbor Rosicky, January 2020
- Old Mrs. Harris, February 2020
- Two Friends, March 2020
THE OLD BEAUTY AND OTHERS (1948)
- The Old Beauty, April 2020
- The Best Years, May 2020
- Before Breakfast, June 2020
FIVE STORIES (1956)
- The Enchanted Bluff, July 2020
- Tom Outland’s Story, August 2020
- Willa Cather’s Unfinished Avignon Story, an article by George N. Kates, September 2020
Phase II: Short Fiction on the Willa Cather Archive & Library of America
After the initial almost two-year goal is finished in September 2020, I’ll turn to Cather’s short fiction collected on the Willa Cather Archive (WCA) website. There are currently 57 entries on the site going back to Cather’s writing as a student at the University of Nebraska. In fact, many of the stories listed above are presented in full on the WCA, so you can read them online. I’ll also consult the Library of America Series No 57 which includes Cather’s uncollected stories. I’ll create a new reading list/schedule from these two resources.
Isn’t it curious that both of these resources involve the number 57? Considering I’ll turn 57 in 2023, perhaps that is the year I’ll finish this reading project.
What to join me?
I’ll post a reminder of which story to read on the second Wednesday of the month, then on the fourth Wednesday of the month I’ll post my response to having read the story and will invite you to share your thoughts in the comments or a link to your comments.
Or don’t join me! Go full steam ahead and read all of Cather’s short fiction at a fast clip. The point is to read with pleasure for yourself, so happy reading!