By Willa Cather
My father gave me a copy of My Antonia, and I found the spareness of Cather's writing astonishing. The way she expresses longing and the way the landscape becomes a part of that longing affected me so much. Years later, when I was working in Nebraska, I took a day to drive up to one of Willa Cather's homesteads in Red Cloud. It was a simple house in the middle of this solid Nebraskan town, and I saw how her work is a perfect expression of that part of the country and the people who've carved out a life there.