The daughter of a former St. John’s University teacher who is considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in the English language will discuss her new book at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Gorecki Family Theater on the College of St. Benedict campus.
Katherine Powers, the daughter of J.F. Powers, is the author of “Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life: the Letters of J.F. Powers 1942-1963.”
The presentation is free and open to the public.
Katherine, the eldest daughter of Powers, is a writer, editor and book reviewer who lives in Boston. Her book is a collection of edited letters from her father that are compiled to show the true essence of Powers as a writer, an unorthodox Catholic and a family man. These letters show the undiscovered side of Powers.
Powers (1917-99) won the 1963 National Book Award for his first novel, “Morte d’Urban.” Although he won immense praise for his novel, Powers always considered himself first and foremost a short-story writer. His short story, “Death of a Favorite,” was included in John Updike’s list of “The Best American Short Stories of the Century” in 2000. The topic of his writings usually centered on Catholic priests living in the Midwest.
Powers spent his adult life in modest conditions, moving his family of five children across Minnesota. Powers’ family moved back and forth from Ireland three times before finally settling in Collegeville in 1975, where he died.
This event is part of a week-long celebration of the life and work of S. Mariella Gable, OSB. Gable was a revered member of the CSB monastic community who was a poet, writer, editor, Dante scholar and specialist in new fiction. She was an English professor at CSB, teaching at the school from 1928-73. Gable played an important role in the early careers of writers that included Powers, Powers’ wife Betty Wahl and another towering short-story writer, Flannery O’Connor. Wahl, a CSB alumna who was married to Powers was a noted writer of fiction.
Katherine Powers’ book includes a story of Gable introducing her parents to each other. Gable asked Powers to read the manuscript of a novel written by a recent graduate – Wahl. After several false starts, Powers met Wahl on Nov. 10, 1945, and proposed to her two days later.