Reading Notes (supplemental), 2/26/21

book and flowers
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

The end of February often sneaks up on me. Plus, I’ve just been a bit out of it the last couple weeks; not reading, blogging, or even watching movies. Mostly, I’ve been playing Minecraft and alternately listening to William Hope Hodgson novels or Nebraska basketball games. But I have a couple of reading things I want to talk about before my February wrap-up on Monday.

Willa Cather Short Story Project

February’s story is “Peter,” a very short story originally published in The Hesperian in 1892.

The titular Peter is the father of a fairly large family from Bohemia that settled in southwestern Nebraska to farm. It is his son Antone, though, who is the head of the family. Peter was a violinist in Prague until he suffered a paralytic stoke which made it impossible to play. While he is described in the story as lazy, he is old, disabled, and deeply homesick for the theater life. Antone, described as “mean and untrustworthy,” is a practical man. He wants to sell his father’s violin and he does things like gathering wood on the Sabbath. In the end, despite his piety, Peter can see only one way out. He breaks his violin so his son can’t sell it and then commits suicide with a rifle. He does not break the violin’s bow and Antone sells that.

It’s a pretty bleak story, even more so than “Lou, the Prophet.” There is again tension between the past and present. The ending of the story would have us believe that the past isn’t any use to the present, especially in the harsh reality of farming in Nebraska, but Cather’s opinion of the present isn’t very sunny either. Antone is not drawn as a good person, but “[his] corn was better tended than any in the county, and his wheat always yielded more than other men’s.”

The Willa Cather Short Story Project (phase II) is hosted by Chris Wolak.

#ShelfLove Monthly Discussion

This month’s discussion topic is: Free Books!
Fortified by Books has a huge post about free book resources. I mean, massive! I use a few of those, but so many are new to me too.

  • Project Gutenberg – This is the big one for me, especially since I’ve been reading a lot of classics.
  • Amazon.com – It’s easy enough to load Gutenberg files onto my Kindle, but I will often see if Amazon has a free copy of classics so synching between my Kindle and browser app works better. Otherwise, I kind of steer clear of Amazon freebies: I have so. much. to. read.
  • Hathi Trust – My go-to for old periodicals.
  • Online magazines – Nightmare, Uncanny, and Clakesworld pretty much cover the realm of current speculative short fiction (and nonfiction).
  • Tor.com – Traditional publisher Tor features short fiction by their authors as well as news, commentary, and readalongs on their blog.

#ShelfLove is hosted by Fotified by Books. If you’re looking to curb your book-buying and read from your own shelves, it’s not too late to sign up!


1 thought on “Reading Notes (supplemental), 2/26/21

  1. Chris Wolak

    Regarding “Peter,” it is interesting to see the theme of the past vs the present arise so early in Cather’s fiction. It is such a bleak story. On a happier note, thanks for listing the Hathi Trust — I had stumbled on it in the past and had forgotten about it. Such a great resource to explore (and get lost in for hours).

    Reply

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