Katherine Powers to read from 'Suitable Accommodations'

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October 11, 2013

Katherine A. Powers

J.F. Powers

Katherine Powers will read from her new book, "Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life: The Letters of J.F. Powers, 1942-1963," at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Gorecki Family Theater, Benedicta Arts Center of the College of Saint Benedict.

The presentation, which will give audience members a glimpse into the life of a legendary author who taught students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, is sponsored by the CSB Literary Arts Institute (LAI) and is part of LAI's celebration of the CSB Centennial. The event is free and open to the public.

In this presentation, Katherine Powers, a writer, editor and eldest daughter of J.F. Powers, will read excerpts from her book that was published this fall by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her book is a collection of edited letters from her father that are compiled to show the true essence of J.F. Powers as a writer, an unorthodox Catholic and a family man. These letters show the undiscovered side of Powers.

J.F. 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 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, Minn., in 1975.

This event is part of a week-long celebration of the life and work of S. Mariella Gable, OSB, which also includes a reading by author Ru Freeman on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Freeman's book, "On Sal Mal Lane," has received the 2013 Sister Mariella Gable Award from CSB.

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 such writers as Flannery O'Connor, J.F. Powers and Betty Wahl, a CSB alumna who was married to Powers and was a noted writer of fiction.

Katherine Powers' book includes a story of Gable introducing her parents to each other. Gable asked J.F. 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.

In addition to the reading at CSB, Powers will read at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27 at Common Good Books, 38 S. Snelling Ave., St. Paul, Minn. The event is free and open to the public.