c. Sept. 16, 1962, letter from JFP from to a friend
Publication Day was marked by two events, a phone call at 4 A.M. from Johnny Berryman, poet, critic, University of Minnesota professor teaching this year at Brown, in his cups, and reading the book, and saying he’d phoned (from Providence) to tell me that a night letter was coming, which did, in fact, arrive. The day itself was like other days, with the author napping on the floor in the middle of the afternoon, and then in the evening there was a surprise party preceded by any number of telltale clues, Betty not going to bed at her usual time, having her hair combed, and wearing shoes, plus the porch light being on, and somebody had even flushed the toilet. A gay evening, Guinness mixed with beer. Today no mail at all, and so it goes. I am much cheered by your predictions of success, and would still not bet against the book, but let’s face it, it’s being slammed into the rails on the turns.
—taken from Suitable Accommodations: The Letters of J. F. Powers, forthcoming from FSG, August, 2013 and edited by his daughter Katherine A. Powers. September 14th was the 50th anniversary of the publication of J. F. Powers’ Morte D’Urban, his first novel and winner of the 1963 National Book Award for Fiction. D. G. Myers takes a look at the book and Powers’ relationship with Catholicism in an article at Commentary, and hopes that “readers continuing to stumble across copies of it in another 50 years.”