#1845: Willa Cather to Elsie Cather, November 11 [1918]

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My Dear Sister1:

I meant long ago to answer your nice letter about “Antonia”3. You must ask mother4 to let you see one wonderful review of it I sent home, and then send it back to her for I have no other copy. People seem to love this book in a more personal way than they did any of the others. It’s funny, but the less you “make-up” in a book the harder it is to write. It takes so much more experience and skill and maturity to interpret life as it is than it does to spin yarns. And the longer I live the more I want to write “nothing but the truth”. One grows to have a kind of scorn for the other thing. This is so purely a literary treatment in “Antonia”, and yet so many un-literary people seem not to like but to love it. I went into a book store to buy blotting paper the other night, and I actually saw two women buy the book over the counter! One was a stunning looking woman with such an air and such furs, and she said to the shop-keeper “Send the others, I’ll take this” and went out and got into her motor with the book under her arm, unwrapped. I longed to ask her name, but I was afraid my manner might betray me.

Edith5 is better than for a long time. She has not got a job yet. Alfred6 is still nearer dying than recovering, so I’m afraid Isabelle7 is worn out with the strain of it. Our rent has gone up, and as for food - - - - well, we are feeling pretty poor, I can assure you. The Flu rages on every side8, but so far I’ve escaped. Dr. Weiner9 howls “Red Meat!” with beef at 60¢ a pound! “Saving” on housekeeping is depressing work, especially when one likes to give one’s friends a good dinner now and then.

This is the great Peace Day. How sad that the Kaiser10 should put all the kings out of business. I wanted a few harmless ones left. Well, he always said he was God’s instrument, and it proves true enough!

Don’t wear yourself all out on your vacation, Bobbie. I’m sorry you’ve had to help nurse the poor people. Now why should the plague strike open, healthy Albuquerque11?

Lovingly Willa Please send this letter back.
Elsie.