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When all is said and done, I think I’m ready to leave Willa Cather’s New York City and visit her Nebraska or New Mexico. I have to confess that after reading my third short story in a row by Cather, “Flavia and Her Artists”, I’m growing a little weary of Cather and her artists.
Cather writes brilliantly and the way she captures the details of her characters can be truly amazing. In this story, Imogen Willard visits an old friend, Flavia Hamilton. Flavia has a thing for artists. Artists with names like Frank Wellington, William Maidenwood, Jemima Broadwood, Emile M. Roux and Frau Lichtenfield visit Flavia’s home on a frequent basis. Imogen has a thing for Flavia’s husband, Arthur, whom she knew when she was a young girl.
The bulk of the story revolves around the artist’s thoughts and ideas about many things including what might be considered inappropriate art for children and the role of women in the art world. While a few of their ideas are worth thinking about (such as the ones I just mentioned), much of their conversation simply becomes arrogant and pretentious. The thought did occur to me that this may have been Cather’s intention.
Imogen gets caught between Flavia and Arthur’s relationship, but it’s not how one might think given Imogen’s infatuation with Arthur. In fact, Flavia and Arthur’s marriage probably is one of the more interesting aspects of the story – it seems to be a real marriage where good and bad combine. Imogen’s “interference” doesn’t seem to change any of that.
I have two more Cather short stories in my Deal Me In: 2013 project. I’m hoping the luck of the draw gives me a little break before I read them.