1963 -- Morte d’Urban

In his 2007 retrospective essay on Morte d’Urban, Jonathan Yardley says that he has read the novel four times, and that the fourth reading, forty-five years after the first one, left him “as convinced as ever that the oblivion into which it seems to have sunk is inexplicable and wholly undeserved”:

I am struck more sharply than ever before by how Powers turns this story of a go-getter priest into a metaphor for the world of business. It's a much better novel than Sinclair Lewis's far more famous Babbitt: subtler, wittier and much more elegantly written.


There are two usual explanations for the disappearance of Powers’ books from the shelves, sometimes even his name from the literary histories. One is that, as a Catholic writer, he confined himself too narrowly to priests and parish life, in a way that Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor and other mid-century Catholic writers did not. The other explanation is that he wrote too little — three story collections and two novels in a fifty-year career. One tribute to Powers after his death dubbed him “the patron saint of slow writers; his daughter Katherine said that he “had powers of procrastination that went far beyond the merely amateur.”

July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).