03 March 2018

Death Comes for the Archbishop

Back to the Classics 2018 Challenge
category 10: A classic by an author that is new to you
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (1927)

Willa Cather is an author whose writing I have wanted to read for a while; though I knew very little about her. Specifically, I have wanted to read My Antonia for no reason other than that the title intrigued me. My local library did not have that book on the shelf. They did have Death Comes for the Archbishop, which I had not heard of before.
Cather took up the past, but rather than a personal past she evokes a shared historical past in Death Comes for the Archibishop, the story of two French missionaries who brought the southwest into the United States after the Mexican War, one of whom built the cathedral at Santa Fe. . . Cather was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters and later the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The latter awarded her its Howells Medal for Fiction for Death Comes for the Archbishop in 1930, (source)
I loved everything about this book!
The story was wonderful, and Cather's descriptions of people and places were flawless. I identified quite a lot with Jean Marie Latour, the titular character, so I found it effortless to see and think and feel as he did throughout the book. As a matter of fact, the long-lived friendship between Father Latour and Father Vaillant struck me as rather similar to that of myself and my husband; they complemented each other very well. Willa Cather's writing is beautiful and graceful, her treatment gentle and thoughtful. I did not want to put this book down, and when the Bishop departed this life and I closed the book on his world, we both did so with a deep sense of contentment.

Of Mice and Men

I chose Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937) for my first read in the Back to the Classics Challenge 2018.
Of Mice and Men is Steinbeck’s first play-novelette, an experimental form he developed. . . The story is about a pair of migrant workers in California, George Milton and Lennie Small. The two friends depend on one another in a world where most working men are lonely, moving from job to job. Steinbeck called his book a little study in humility—it went on to become one of his most beloved books. (source)
 It is my category 11 ~A classic that scares you~ book.

This book was actually a re-read for me; my first time was nearly 40 years ago when I was a teen. Nobody forewarned me then that it was a tragedy, and I was utterly shocked and horrified as the final chapters unfolded. I remember hurling the book across my bedroom, proclaiming John Steinbeck to be the most! depressing! writer! EVER!

Since that time, I would not even entertain the notion of reading anything authored by Mr. Steinbeck . . . until now. My fifteen-year-old daughter lobbied to include Of Mice and Men as part of our literature studies this year, and I consented, informing her and her friend that it did not have a happy ending.

As for myself, I decided that I would give the book another chance. I already knew the story, so perhaps it would not be such a wrenching experience this time. I am, after all, older and more worldly-wise now.

Steinbeck referred to Of Mice and Men as, "such a simple little thing." It is little, and it is a story simply told; but, oh, there is so much packed into this simple little thing: friendship and loneliness, hope and desperation, innocence and cruelty. Yes, it is sad, hear-rendingly so, but, yes, John Steinbeck is a remarkable writer. He drew me into this story. He made me think; he made me care. And that, makes me me want to read more of his writing.

07 November 2016

We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of
earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains,
and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers.
We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may
safeguard them for our posterity. Grant that we may continue
to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation,
to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen.

~ from The Book of Common Prayer

06 November 2016

Today i am thankful for...
some impromptu one-on-one time with each of my two youngest
a special day together for my youngest daughter and her daddy
the friendship between my two sons; they have been best buds since my second was born
rain-cooled air, and the opportunity to open the front door and breathe it in