What these letters leave to implication is that the greatest obstacle to Powers’s art was himself. The vulgarities of American culture, including those of a fast-assimilating American laity and priesthood, were his natural materials. The combination of affectionately rendered detail given bite by a sense of awkward and impossible compromises between the “officially” unworldly life of the Church and the worldly materialism with which its priests and people strain clumsily to find accommodation make Powers’s stories about parish life a quizzical joy to read. His early stories on American racism show his genius for Joycean impressionism but are also one of several indications that his range, as Flannery O’Connor noted, did not extend far beyond the rectory.
Friday, April 25, 2014
… Catholic Novelist, Commercial Folly | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)