Maybe I‘ve been feeling a bit homesick, for lack of a better word, as of late. The semester ended and I’ve found myself with too much time on my hands. So, I picked up the copy of Willa Cather’s My Ántonia (Vintage Classics, 1994) I had lying around in some unpacked boxes in my apartment and started reading. I always forget how much I love this novel by Cather who might arguably be Nebraska’s most famous author coming from the red grass fields she writes about in her novel, until I pick up the book again. I had the pleasure of visiting The National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, NE last June and got to see many of the places written about in the novel: the back door Jim runs from to go to the neighbor’s when his grandparents move into Black Hawk from the farmland outside of the town, mirroring from where Willa Cather once ran. Returning to this novel once again with a greater perspective of the influence of place and what Cather is giving us, is bringing more resonance to the work this countless read-through to truly feel the “…motion in the landscape; in the fresh, easy-blowing morning wind, and in the earth itself, as if the shaggy grass were a sort of loose hide, and underneath it herds of wild buffalo were galloping, galloping….” (18). Cather’s novel is as close to this Nebraska as we can come to know; however, there’s still the same amount of sky blanketing a similar treeless prairie.
––Tyler Michael Jacobs, Mid-American Review