Friday, May 29, 2009

Song of the Lark

I graduated with a degree in English Literature. I love to read and my favorite literature is Western American Literature. I think Willa Cather is one of my favorite authors, so I was really looking forward to reading Song of the Lark. I even read the really long foreward. The story is supposed to be semi-autobiographical, so that drew me in.

The writing is great, but I just could not get behind the main character. In the end, I found her quite unsympathetic. In this story, she is an opera singer instead of an author, and there is a heavy focus on what the woman sacrifices to be the artist she was born to be. The sad thing is that she really loses out on all the intimate relationships she could have had because she is so focused on her art. I guess I just question the either/or mentality. If someone is meant to be great, then I don't think that having real relationships with people would put that in jeapordy. I do realize that the lifestyle of an artist comes with some sacrifice, but there was just too much for my liking.

One thing I really liked about the book was the side story about how the girl goes to sing with the Mexican community in her small Nebraska town, much to the dismay of most of the Scandinavian town folk. Her mother doesn't mind it, so she's not having to sneak away. She really seems to connect with several of the Mexican characters, but they are still shown as very marginalized in the context of the story. I think that's just part of the period she lived in.

Willa Cather really is masterful at setting a scene and taking you there in every way. I could almost feel the rain when she described the stark Arizona landscape and the afternoon rain shower in the canyon. If you want to read Willa Cather, I would recommend My Antonia or Death Comes to the Archbishop before this book, though.

No comments: