"With the sudden appearance of a “liberal” Pope…there may be no more serendipitous moment to be thinking again about the writer J. F. Powers."
—Adam Gopnik, “'America's Cleanest Writer Goes His Lonely Way': The Letters of J. F. Powers,” The New Yorker's Page-Turner blog.
In this review of the recent collection of Powers’ letters, Suitable Accommodations, Gopnik attempts to explain the National Book Award–winning author’s fall from readership grace, landing on the simple conclusion that this writer of Midwestern Catholicism and priestly ennui might simply be too Catholic for contemporary America.
Powers’ novel, Morte d’Urban, which won the National Book Award over Nabokov’s Pale Fire (and over Updike’s Pigeon Feathers and Katherine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools), and The Stories of J.F. Powers are also available as NYRB Classics.
P.S. Powers self-deprecatingly dubbed himself “America’s Cleanest Writer” in a letter to a friend, but presumably before he wrote that scene in Wheat that Springeth Green where his young (semi-autobiographical) hero has a three-way with two neighbors—and proceeds to repeat the act every day for the next three weeks. You know, the typical pre-priesthood antics.
Now, here’s a picture of Powers apparently pitching for a Little League Baseball game…