By Sierra Skye Gemma, Executive Editor
I read more than just one good book last year, but I have been—rather uncomfortably—restricted to a single favourite by someone who shall remain nameless (Jeff, cough, our online editor, cough, cough). So, somewhat grouchily, I announce my favourite book of 2012 was O Pioneers! by Willa Cather.
O Pioneers! was Willa Cather’s second book and it was published in 1913. (In 1922, Willa Cather won the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours.) O Pioneers! is the first book of Willa Cather’s Great Plains Trilogy, which also includes Song of the Lark and My Ántonia. O Pioneers! follows the story of Alexandra, an independent, immigrant farm woman, and her brothers as they work the land and find success on the prairies of Nebraska. What makes O Pioneers! such a lovely read are the insights of the various characters, which seem to arise from thoughtful reflection on their lived experiences. What I have to keep reminding myself is that these are characters, not people; their reflections come not from a re-examination of a life well-lived, but from the mind of Willa Cather. I leave you with two gems:
- “And now the old story has begun to write itself over there,” said Carl softly. “Isn’t it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes for thousands of years.”
- And from Marie: “I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything; I begin just where I left off.”