Cather Short Stories

The Willa Cather Short Story Project

Photo I took at the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie

In addition to being a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Willa Cather also wrote 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 making it official, as book bloggers do, and have created The Willa Cather Short Story Project.

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. The plan: read with me.

Phase I

Reading the Vintage Classics Collected Stories

The initial goal is to read the 20 stories in the Vintage Classics edition of Cather’s short stories. Most of the stories in this collection are those Cather published in book form.

Willa Cather Short Story Collections

Reading schedule for Phase I of The Willa Cather Short Story Project:

From THE TROLL GARDEN (1905)

YOUTH AND THE BRIGHT MEDUSA (1920)

OBSCURE DESTINIES (1932)

THE OLD BEAUTY AND OTHERS (1948)

FIVE STORIES (1956)

Five Stories by Willa Cather Book cover design by Alvin Lustig (Source: Cooper Hewitt Collection)
Book cover design by Alvin Lustig (Source: Cooper Hewitt Collection)

Phase II

We’re going digital for Phase II and will read Cather’s uncollected short fiction on the Willa Cather Archive (WCA). An “uncollected” story just means it was not included in a published book collection of short stories during Cather’s lifetime.

All of the stories currently listed on the WCA’s short fiction page were published in magazines or journals. Some date back to Cather’s writing as a student at the University of Nebraska. If you look at the complete list of stories on the archive, you’ll notice this list does include stories we read in Phase I. If you have the time, it might be interesting to re-read those stories again to see the development of Cather’s themes and writing style.

Reading schedule for Phase II of the Willa Cather Short Story Project:

  1. January 2021 “Lou, the Prophet” (reminder | response)
  2. February 2021 “Peter” (reminder | response)
  3. March 2021 “A Tale of the White Pyramid” (reminder | response)
  4. April 2021 “The Son of the Celestial” (reminder | response)
  5. May 2021 “The Conversion of Sum Loo” (reminder | response) *read out of chronological order*
  6. June 2021 “The Elopement of Allen Poole” (reminder | response)
  7. July 2021 “The Clemency of the Court” (reminder | response)
  8. August 2021 “The Fear that Walks by Noonday” (reminder | response)
  9. September 2021 “On the Divide” (reminder | response)
  10. October 2021 “A Night at Greenway Court” (reminder | response)
  11. November 2021 “The Princess Baladina—Her Adventure” (reminder | response)
  12. December 2021 “The Burglar’s Christmas” (signed “Elizabeth L. Seymour”) *read out of chronological order* (reminder | response)
  13. January 2022 “Tommy, the Unsentimental” (reminder | response)
  14. February 2022 “The Count of Crow’s Nest” (reminder | response)
  15. March 2022 “Wee Winkie’s Wanderings” (reminder | response)
  16. April 2022 “The Strategy of the Were-Wolf Dog”
  17. May 2022 “A Resurrection”
  18. June 2022 “The Prodigies”
  19. July 2022 “Nanette: An Aside”
  20. August 2022 “The Way of the World”
  21. September 2022 “The West Bound Train”
  22. October 2022 “Eric Hermannson’s Soul”
  23. November 2022 “The Dance at Chevalier’s (signed “Henry Nicklemann”)
  24. December 2022 “The Sentimentality of William Tavener”
  25. January 2023 “The Affair at Grover Station” (Parts I and II)
  26. February 2023 “A Singer’s Romance”
  27. March 2023 “Jack-a-Boy”
  28. April 2023 “El Dorado: A Kansas Recessional”
  29. May 2023 “The Professor’s Commencement”
  30. June 2023 “The Treasure of Far Island”
  31. July 2023 “The Namesake”
  32. August 2023 “The Profile”
  33. September 2023 “The Willing Muse”
  34. October 2023 “Eleanor’s House”
  35. November 2023 “On the Gulls’ Road”
  36. December 2023 “The Joy of Nelly Deane” 
  37. January 2024 “Behind the Singer Tower”
  38. February 2024 “The Bohemian Girl”
  39. March 2024 “Consequences”
  40. April 2024 “The Bookkeeper’s Wife” 
  41. May 2024 “Ardessa” 
  42. June 2024 “Her Boss”

Read with me

The plan

I’ll post a reminder of which story to read on the second Wednesday of the month and will aim to provide some background or context for the story. Then on the fourth Wednesday of the month, I’ll post my response to reading the story and invite you to share your thoughts in the comments or leave a link to your comments if you write a blog post. You do not have to have a blog to participate.

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 Willa Cather with pleasure, whatever that looks like for you.

Happy reading!
Chris

P.S. Please note that this project is not intended to be scholarly. It’s a casual reading project.

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