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Becoming Willa Cather: Creation and Career.

Becoming Willa Cather: Creation and Career

Daryl W. Palmer

University of Nevada Press

Mail Stop 0166, Reno, NV, 89557-0166

9781948908276, $39.95, HC, 264pp,

Synopsis: From the girl in Red Cloud who oversaw the construction of a miniature town called Sandy Point in her backyard, to the New Woman on a bicycle, celebrating art and castigating political abuse in Lincoln newspapers, to the aspiring novelist in New York City, committed to creation and career, "Becoming Willa Cather: Creation and Career" by Daryl W. Palmer (Professor of English at Regis University in Denver, Colorado) is a groundbreaking literary biography that offers a provocative new look at Willa Cather's evolution as a writer.

Willa Cather has long been admired for O Pioneers! (1913), Song of the Lark (1915), and My Antonia (1918)--the "prairie novels" about the lives of early Nebraska pioneers that launched her career. Thanks in part to these timeless masterpieces of literary fiction, she is often viewed as a representative of pioneer life on the Great Plains, a controversial innovator in American modernism, and a compelling figure in the literary history of LGBTQ America. A century later, scholars acknowledge Cather's place in the canon of American literature and continue to explore her relationship with the West.

Drawing on original archival research and paying unprecedented attention to Cather's early short stories, Professor Palmer demonstrates that the relationship with Nebraska in the years leading up to O Pioneers! is more dynamic than critics and scholars thought. Readers will encounter a surprisingly bold young female author whose youth in Nebraska served as a kind of laboratory for her future writing career. "Becoming Willa Cather" changes the way we think about Cather, a brilliant and ambitious author who embraced experimentation in life and art, intent on reimagining the American West.

Critique: A masterpiece of meticulous scholarship, exhaustive research, insightful analysis, and featuring a ten page listing of Works Cited, along with a six page Index, "Becoming Willa Cather: Creation and Career" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library 20th Century American Literary Biography collections in general, and Willa Cather supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Becoming Willa Cather: Creation and Career" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $37.95).

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Publication:Internet Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2019
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