I am taking great joy in re-reading, or in the case, reading for the first time, classics in American Literature in preparation for my class next year. This past week I've been reading Willa Cather's wonderful novel about the immigrant experience on the Nebraskan prairie in the early 1900s. The star of the novel is Antonia, an immigrant girl from Bohemia. Told through the eyes of her neighborn, an American-born boy, the novel chronicles her optimism and innocence in the midst of struggles over the course of 25 years. The prose is simply lyrical, a quality which is most often absent in today's novels. (Even contemporary poetry lacks a lyric voice, as often as not.) Reading classics leads me to wonder why today's novelists focus primarily on telling the story, with little regard to the craft of language. But I'll save my criticism of contemporary lit for another time. My Antonia will likely make the list of books we'll read in American Lit.