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Youth and the Bright Medusa

Willa Sibert Cather

Book Overview: 

Youth And The Bright Medusa comprises eight short stories

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .hat the devil have you had anything to do with me for, then?"

"There's no use talking to you," said Eden walking slowly toward the door. "I've been trying to pull wires for you all afternoon, and this is what it comes to." She had expected that the tidings of a prospective call from the great man would be received very differently, and had been thinking as she came home in the stage how, as with a magic wand, she might gild Hedger's future, float him out of his dark hole on a tide of prosperity, see his name in the papers and his pictures in the windows on Fifth Avenue.

Hedger mechanically snapped the midsummer leash on Caesar's collar and they ran downstairs and hurried through Sullivan Street off toward the river. He wanted to be among rough, honest people, to get down where the big drays bumped over stone paving blocks and the men wore corduroy trowsers and kept their shirts open at the neck. He stopped for a drink in one of. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Several of these stories were interesting in their depiction of the Great Plains not as the epic, magnificent place we expect from Cather, but more like a cultural wasteland. I was very surprised by this.

I kept thinking all the stories of musicians, singers and travelers were inter-related and would all wind back around to a crossing of their paths. Alas, I was wrong and disappointed. The first story of the painter and singer neighbors was the best one.

"Miss Cather's book is more than a random collection of excellent tales. It constitutes as a whole one of the truest as well as, in a sober and earnest sense, one of the most poetical interpretations of American life that we possess."
-The Nation

The stories in this collection are mostly set in NYC and Boston, and they're all about artists - writers, musicians, sculptors - and their relationship to society. There are stories about glitter, about inspiration, and about expectations. They are all beautifully written.

I read the first three stories in the collection and set it down, feeling that I was reading the same story (somewhat at least) three times. After letting it sit, I picked it up, read the remaining stories, and decided that what I was reading was a set of variations on a theme. The theme was the...more

If you care for 20thC American Lit, you love Willa Cather. She breaks hearts in a few sentences. Cather tops any American Lit List with Edith Wharton and Scott Fitzgerald. Who else is there on top 20th tier? In spare, concise style she digs into emotions and dreams.

This fine collection includes...more

I reread Cather's short stories every few years. She has a radiant, powerful punch for me which few writers share. "A Wagner Matinee" is brilliant. "Coming, Aphrodite" would make a stunning movie.

Excellent short story collection from Cather, featuring opera divas, dreamy adolescents, teary-eyed spinsters, to help explore a common theme, the trials and tribulations of the artistic temperament in a world of commerce.

'Coming, Aphrodite!' is the first and longest piece, where an u...more

I love Willa Cather... This book is a compilation of short stories she wrote in the early 1900's. Some had been previously published in magazines like McClure's & Scribner's and others were previously published in her book The Troll Garden.

I can't help thinking of these stories as typical Wi...more

Eight short stories: Coming, Aphrodite!; The Diamond Mine; A Gold Slipper; Scandal; Paul's Case; A Wagner Matinee; The Sculptor's Funeral; and A Death in the Desert. I really enjoy Cather's storytelling and the way she uses words to define the location and characters. There are lots of artistic c...more

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