Monday, 29 September 2008

Wheat That Springeth Green by: J.F. Powers

Wheat That Springeth Green
J.F. Powers
NYRB
ISBN 0940322242

Originally Published as:

Wheat That Springeth Green
A.A. Knopf
New York, 1988, 335p.
ISBN 0394496094

This book was nominated for the national book award in 1988 for fiction. It is the story about Father Joe Hackett who as a young man was an athlete and a bit of a partier, and then he became a priest out of saintly ambition but becomes overly fond of the drink. Joe
is a strange hero for a novel. Powers' daughter Kathrine in her introduction to the current edition states: "Written over an increasingly dark time, Wheat That Springeth Green was shaped by my father's growing conviction of the progressive and irredeemable absurdity of things. He was a connoisseur of the dull, the mediocre and the second-rate, and of the disingenuous and fraudulent, but now it seemed that their dominion has truly come." This book captures much of that sentiment - Joe in his own life and in his interactions with most of the other clergy in this book. Though Powers is more famous for his earlier work Morte D'Urban, I personally find this book much more enjoyable and Joe, though he has more visible faults, a person you can relate to more easily. I have known priests in my life that were mirrors of both Joe and Urban and yet I end up seeing a lot of myself in Joe.

Joe desired to live a holy life; he wanted to be pious and devote. He desired to be a man of prayer, serving the world. In chapter 6 Out in the World (previously published as The Warm Sand) Joe, in hi
s last year in seminary, became known as a holy roller and was avoided his last year in school. His first assignment is with a priest who is a truly pious man, and when he criticizes him in front of some other clergy he experiences great remorse. Through this event he tries to change his ways.

Personally I can really relate to Joe; there is much in his small successes and more frequent failures or setbacks. This book is excellent. It was a labour of over 25 years of writing and rewriting. And having read some of the earlier versions of some chapters published as short stories, it was worth the wait. Powers, being the wordsmith he is, crafted and recrafted the stories together into a fabulous novel.

My Reviews and Articles on Powers:

1962 - Morte d'Urban - novel
1963 - Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories
1988 - Wheat that Springeth Green - novel
1991 - The Old Bird, A Love Story - Illustrated Edition
1999 - The Stories of J. F. Powers
J.F. Powers Selected Bibliography
J.F. Powers Book Covers
That Elusive Story
The Warm Sand
Meme Booked By 3 May 2007
Meme Book Meme
Meme Booked by 3 February 2007

RS398 Directed Reading - The Religious Fiction of J.F. Powers
Essay - Why J.F. Powers
The Prince of Darkness and Other Stories
The Presence of Grace
Morte d'Urban
Look How the Fish Live
Wheat that Springeth Green
Essay - J.F. Powers Literary Life and Legacy

Friday, 26 September 2008

The Old Bird, A Love Story by: J.F. Powers

The Old Bird, A Love Story
(Illustrated Edition)

J.F. Powers
(Author)

Barbara Harman (Illustrator)
ISBN 1879832267

Minnesota Center for Book Arts

This short story is a like a sad version of the The Gift of the Magi with the sacrifice, but without the reward. The story is one of an old man looking
for work during a depression. He finds a temporary seasonal position, yet his day is long and hard. When he goes home he must act a role with his wife. This is a sad tale of a sad man - a man who has lost it all, but must keep plodding on. While working, he overhears part of a conversation about himself, and he is referred to as the old bird.

This story is heart-wrenching. I have known people like Mr. Newman, men broken and beaten by life, tortured, timid men. The story evokes great emotion.
But what makes this book so excellent is not the story. It is this special edition. The story is enhanced by the illustrations from Barbara Harman. This special edition was created by the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. The project created 260 signed, numbered, limited-editions of this soft story. The Old Bird, a Love Story was published by the Minnesota Center for Book Arts on December 7, 1991. It was the fourth in an annual series commissioned to celebrating winter in the Upper Midwest. The story previously appeared in the Rocky Mountain Review, (1944) and in Prince of Darkness and Other Stories (Doubleday, 1947).

The book is a treasure for the Powers' fan, or for a serious bibliophile. Beautiful to hold and read, the book itself is a work of art, let alone the art of the story within on the pages. Gaylord Schanilec, MCBA Artist-in-Residence in 1991, designed and printed the book on Rives Heavyweight. The Garamond type was composition-set at Harold Berliner Type Foundry. There were two editions of this sp
ecial edition - first the standard edition which consists of 260 copies, numbered and signed by the author and bound by Greg Campbell of Campbell-Logan Bindery in a non-adhesive paper binding. Second the deluxe edition consists of 40 copies, lettered and signed by the author and the artist. This edition is bound by Dennis Ruud in quarter leather with an original monoprint by Barbara Harman in a leather-edged slipcase. These special editions of this book were made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Program and with the generous support of Allegra and Paul Parker and Gail and Henry See.

If you can track down this edition, it is tremendous. A very persistent person from the InterLibrary Loan Office at the University of Waterloo was able to track it down for me after attempting a number of different libraries. It was a pleasure to read such a special book.
My Reviews and Articles on Powers:

1962 - Morte d'Urban - novel
1963 - Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories
1988 - Wheat that Springeth Green - novel
1991 - The Old Bird, A Love Story - Illustrated Edition
1999 - The Stories of J. F. Powers
J.F. Powers Selected Bibliography
J.F. Powers Book Covers
That Elusive Story
The Warm Sand
Meme Booked By 3 May 2007
Meme Book Meme
Meme Booked by 3 February 2007

RS398 Directed Reading - The Religious Fiction of J.F. Powers
Essay - Why J.F. Powers
The Prince of Darkness and Other Stories
The Presence of Grace
Morte d'Urban
Look How the Fish Live
Wheat that Springeth Green
Essay - J.F. Powers Literary Life and Legacy

(First published in Imprint 2009-07-24.)

(Note: Illustrations used by permission from
Barbara Harman they both come from this book. You can find our more about Barbara from her websites here and here.)

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Morte d'Urban by J.F. Powers

Morte D'Urban
J.F. Powers
NYRB
ISBN 0940322234

Originally Published as:

Morte d'Urban
Doubleday, Garden City,
New York, 1962, 336p.
ISBN 9997414411

This book won the national book award in 1963 for fiction. Our hero Father Urban is a little quirky and self-centered; yet even with those faults it is hard not to sympathize with him. I approached this book with some regret. It was the last of Powers' works I would have the chance to read. So I took my time and slowly read chapter by chapter, savoring the book over a much longer period than I normally would. The book was both satisfying and a bit of a disappointment. It was satisfying in that I have now completed the published books of J. F. Powers. It was also sad because of this fact. It was a bit disappointing in that the story feels unfinished. Like a chapter was left out when it went to printing.

Some of the plot was inevitable, and predictable, but the characters you meet along the way make the book very engaging and entertaining. I am a post Vatican II baby. As such, I do not know the Latin Mass - have only read books, and seen films of what the church was like before that period. Powers is a master at creating characters, and characters that are believable. His priests, brothers, monsignors and even bishops are believable to anyone who has had serious interactions even with clergy of today. I know of a priest locally who could be an Urban walking off the page to take up ministry today.

Many segments of this book were previously published as short stories in a variety of sources. Powers was a master at the short story, but his creative genius was his ability to take those short stories and turn them into a convincing novel. He has done this with both his published novels - this book Morte D'Urban and Wheat That Springeth Green. Both books were nominated for the National Book Award and Urban won. That is the testament to Powers' power and prowess with the quill. It is also witness to his ability to transcend the short story, a genre that appears to be going by the wayside, and to compile books of great depth and insight. Modern author Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club, wanted to write a book of short stories, but his publisher, even with his popularity after Fight Club, would not allow him a book of short stories. Then Palauniuk wrote Haunted a collection of characters' personal stories told by a group of writers locked in a building. Powers achieves what Palahniuk does not in that his stories flow together seamlessly, where Palahniuk's are obviously individual stories.

This book is worth the read for anyone wanting a glimpse of insight into post World War II Catholicism, especially in the Midwest. But it is also a great study of people and why they do what they do - what drives them to achieve, their dreams and ultimately their failures and defeats. Unfortunately I have now read all of Powers' fiction. Fortunately the 2 books and 3 collections of short stories can be savored again and again. I can predict I have not finished with reading Powers, or Urban.

My Reviews and Articles on Powers:

1962 - Morte d'Urban - novel
1963 - Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories
1988 - Wheat that Springeth Green - novel
1991 - The Old Bird, A Love Story - Illustrated Edition
1999 - The Stories of J. F. Powers
J.F. Powers Selected Bibliography
J.F. Powers Book Covers
That Elusive Story
The Warm Sand
Meme Booked By 3 May 2007
Meme Book Meme
Meme Booked by 3 February 2007

RS398 Directed Reading - The Religious Fiction of J.F. Powers
Essay - Why J.F. Powers
The Prince of Darkness and Other Stories
The Presence of Grace
Morte d'Urban
Look How the Fish Live
Wheat that Springeth Green
Essay - J.F. Powers Literary Life and Legacy

Monday, 22 September 2008

The Catholic Company

I am soon going to be reviewing for The Catholic Company, they have a new expanded reviewers program. So If you are Catholic and have a blog or website and are interested in reviewing products stop by and check it out. My first review will be on Signs and Mysteries-Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols by Mike Aquilina. Keep an eye out for it and other new reviews coming your way soon thanks to Chris at The Catholic Company. It was hard picking from the current selections. I was also very interested in Catholic, Reluctantly by Christian M. Frank hopefully it will still be available on my next pick.

Hat tip to Ebeth from A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars.

Friday, 19 September 2008

The Good Neighbors: Kin - Book One by: Black & Naifeh

The Good Neighbors:
Kin - Book One

Holly Black (Author)

Ted Naifeh (Illustrator)

Graphix an imprint of
Scholastic

ISBN 9780439855624

From the Publishers of Jeff Smith's Bone comes a new series from one of the authors of the Spiderwick Chronicles. The series called Kin debuts this fall with The Good Neighbors. This is a fantastic graphic novel. The story is strong and compelling, the characters are enticing and draw the readers in, and the artwork is excellent.

This is the beginning of the story of Rue Silver. Rue thought she was a typical student - she had good friends, hung out, went to class and broke into abandoned buildings to climb and explore in them. But now her mother has just disappeared, her father has been arrested, suspected of killing her and one of his grad students. However the story is not as direct as that. Because, unbeknownst to her, Rue is a faerie, like her mother. Rue embarks on a quest - a quest to save her father, a quest to find her mother and after discovering her fey roots, a quest to understand herself and her role in the world. For a battle is brewing between the faerie world and our world, and a dark faerie has plans to make mortals live in fear of the good neighbors once again.

This book reads like a cross between Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and Stardust but with a much darker edge than Stardust. Drawn completely in grayscale, it has an otherworldly feel yet strangely familiar. Black's story draws you in and compels you to read on and Naifeh's images powerfully complement the words. The only drawback is that the book leaves you hanging and desperate to find out what happens next, and yet I cannot find a release date for book two anywhere. So once you are hooked you might have to wait a while for the next installment. But even with that the book is more than worth the effort.

(First published in Imprint 2008-09-19.)

Other Books by Holly Black:

The Poison Eaters and Other Stories (2010)

The Modern Faerie Tales
Tithe (2002)
Valiant (2005)
Ironside (2007)

The Spiderwick Chronicles
The Field Guide (2003)
The Seeing Stone (2003)
Lucinda's Secret (2003)
The Ironwood Tree (2004)
The Wrath of Mulgarath (2004)
Arthur Spiderwick's Notebook of Fantastical Observations (2005)
Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You (2005)
Care and Feeding of Sprites (2006)


Beyond Spiderwick
The Nixie's Song (2007)
A Giant Problem (2008)
The Wyrm King (2009)

The Good Neighbors
Kin (2008)
Kith (2009)
Kind (2010)

The Curse Workers
White Cat (2010)
Red Glove (2011)
Black Heart (2012)

Anthologies
Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd (2009)
Zombies vs. Unicorns (2010)
Welcome to Bordertown (2011)

Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test...

Jeff Vehige over at Thursday Night Gumbo had test results posted, he was a monk and I thought I would end up being one too. I ended up bing a Knight.

Your result for The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test ...


The Knight
You scored 21% Cardinal, 49% Monk, 35% Lady, and 57% Knight!
The Knight
You are the hero. Brave and bold. You are strong and utterly selfless. You are also a pawn to your superiors and will be lucky if you live very long. If you survive the Holy wars you are thrust into you will be praised for your valor and opportunities both romantic and financial will become available to you.

This picture I was given when I came back to school 10 years ago to study Religion and Theology, it has sat above my desk for most of that time. I prefer the vulnerability of the knight in this with his helm off, his neck exposed and holding a child. Both a warrior and a nurturer. Thus MCWPP Mad Celtic Warrior Poet Priest!

Here are some other pictures in that genre I have had up in my
office over time. I have always had a fascination with artwork about knights, la belle dame sans merci and Ophelia.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

30 Skills Every IT Person Needs

(This is an article from one of the tech newsletters I read. It was really well done so I wanted to share it.)

30 Skills Every IT Person Needs
An IT manager's guide on how to be better at what you do, no matter how experienced you are.

By Richard Casselberry, CIO

I noticed an article called "75 skills every man should master." It included some skills I have and some I don't. For example, I can tie a knot and hammer a nail, but frankly I can't recite a poem from memory, and bow ties still confuse me.

It was an interesting read and made me realize I could be more well-rounded than I am. To be honest, we all could be.

1. Be able to fix basic PC issues. These can be how to map a printer, back up files, or add a network card. You don't need to be an expert and understand how to overclock a CPU or hack the registry, but if you work in IT, people expect you to be able to do some things.

2. Work the help desk. Everyone, from the CIO to the senior architect, should be able to sit down at the help desk and answer the phones. Not only will you gain a new appreciation for the folks on the phones, but you will also teach them more about your process and avoid escalations in the future.

3. Do public speaking. At least once, you should present a topic to your peers. It can be as simple as a five-minute tutorial on how IM works, but being able to explain something and being comfortable enough to talk in front of a crowd is a skill you need to have. If you are nervous, partner with someone who is good at it, or do a roundtable. This way, if you get flustered, someone is there to cover for you.

4. Train someone. The best way to learn is to teach.

5. Listen more than you speak. I very rarely say something I didn't already know, but I often hear other people say things and think, "Darn, I wish I knew that last week."

6. Know basic networking. Whether you are a network engineer, a help desk technician, a business analyst, or a system administrator, you need to understand how networks work and simple troubleshooting. You should understand DNS and how to check it, as well as how to ping and trace-route machines.

7. Know basic system administration. Understand file permissions, access levels, and why machines talk to the domain controllers. You don't need to be an expert, but knowing the basics will avoid many headaches down the road.

8. Know how to take a network trace. Everyone in IT should be able to fire up wireshark, netmon, snoop, or some basic network capturing tool. You don't need to understand everything in it, but you should be able to capture it to send to a network engineer to examine.

9. Know the difference between latency and bandwidth. Latency is the amount of time to get a packet back and forth; bandwidth is the maximum amount of data a link can carry. They are related, but different. A link with high-bandwidth utilization can cause latency to go higher, but if the link isn't full, adding more bandwidth can't reduce latency.

10. Script. Everyone should be able to throw a script together to get quick results. That doesn't mean you're a programmer. Real programmers put in error messages, look for abnormal behavior, and document. You don't need to do that, but you should be able to put something together to remove lines, send e-mail, or copy files.
IT World Canada Sal Calc

11. Back up. Before you do anything, for your own sake, back it up.

12. Test backups. If you haven't tested restoring it, it isn't really there. Trust me.

13. Document. None of the rest of us wants to have to figure out what you did. Write it down and put it in a location everyone can find. Even if it's obvious what you did or why you did it, write it down.

14. Read "The Cuckoo's Egg." I don't get a cut from Cliff Stoll (the author), but this is probably the best security book there is -- not because it is so technical, but because it isn't.

15. Work all night on a team project. No one likes to do this, but it's part of IT. Working through a hell project that requires an all-nighter to resolve stinks, but it builds very useful camaraderie by the time it is done.

16. Run cable. It looks easy, but it isn't. Plus, you will understand why installing a new server doesn't really take five minutes -- unless, of course, you just plug in both ends and let the cable fall all over the place. Don't do that -- do it right. Label all the cables (yes, both ends), and dress them nice and neat. This will save time when there's a problem because you'll be able to see what goes where.

17. You should know some energy rules of thumb. For example: A device consuming 3.5kW of electricity requires a ton of cooling to compensate for the heat. And I really do mean a ton, not merely "a lot." Note that 3.5kW is roughly what 15 to 20 fairly new 1U and 2U servers consume. One ton of cooling requires three 10-inch-round ducts to handle the air; 30 tons of air requires a duct measuring 80 by 20 inches. Thirty tons of air is a considerable amount.

18. Manage at least one project. This way, the next time the project manager asks you for a status, you'll understand why. Ideally, you will have already sent the status report because you knew it would be asked for.

19. Understand operating costs versus capital projects. Operating costs are the costs to run the business. Capital equipment is made of assets that can have their cost spread over a time period -- say, 36 months. Operating costs are sometimes better, sometimes worse. Know which one is better -- it can make a difference between a yes and no.

20. Learn the business processes. Being able to spot improvements in the way the business is run is a great technique for gaining points. You don't need to use fancy tools; just asking a few questions and using common sense will serve you well.

21. Don't be afraid to debate something you know is wrong. But also know when to stop arguing. It's a fine line between having a good idea and being a pain in the ass.

22. If you have to go to your boss with a problem, make sure you have at least one solution.

23. There is no such thing as a dumb question, so ask it ... once. Then write down the answer so that you don't have to ask it again. If you ask the same person the same question more than twice, you're an idiot (in their eyes).

24. Even if it takes you twice as long to figure something out on your own versus asking someone else, take the time to do it yourself. You'll remember it longer. If it takes more than twice as long, ask.

25. Learn how to speak without using acronyms.

26. IT managers: Listen to your people. They know more than you. If not, get rid of them and hire smarter people. If you think you are the smartest one, resign.

27. IT managers: If you know the answer, ask the right questions for someone else to get the solution; don't just give the answer. This is hard when you know what will bring the system back up quickly and everyone in the company is waiting for it, but it will pay off in the long run. After all, you won't always be available.

28. IT managers: The first time someone does something wrong, it's not a mistake -- it's a learning experience. The next time, though, give them hell. And remember: Every day is a chance for an employee to learn something else. Make sure they learn something valuable versus learning there's a better job out there.

29. IT managers: Always give people more work than you think they can handle. People will say you are unrealistic, but everyone needs something to complain about anyway, so make it easy. Plus, there's nothing worse than looking at the clock at 2 p.m. and thinking, "I've got nothing to do, but can't leave." This way, your employees won't have that dilemma.

30. IT managers: Square pegs go in square holes. If someone works well in a team but not so effectively on their own, keep them as part of a team.

(Note: This article is published on a number of different sites online, I have linked to two of them above being unsure of the original source.)

Sunday, 14 September 2008

J.F. Powers Bibliography


J.F. Powers Bibliography

James Farl (J.F.) Powers (8 July 1917 - 12 June 1999) was a Roman Catholic short-story writer and a novelist. He often drew inspiration from developments within the Roman Catholic Tradition. He was a conscientious objector during World War II and worked as a hospital orderly.

Although Powers' published output was not in large quantity like many of his
contemporaries, it has long had a devoted following who admire his ability, especially his satire, and his great ability as a true wordsmith. He captured post World War II American Catholicism. He published two novels and three collections of short stories during his lifetime, and those stories have come from a variety of sources and been republished in numerous forms of packaging over the years. His work was admired by his contemporaries and is appreciated to this day. Evelyn Waugh once stated about Powers as a writer whose "whole art is everywhere infused and directed by his faith." And Joseph Bottum in his article about Powers calls him "the Greatest Catholic Writer of the 20th century."


He won the national book award for fiction in 1963 - the year that Morte d'Urban was published. His accolades also include: Lions, Harts, Leaping Does which was selected for inclusion in the O. Henry Prize Stories of 1944; National Book Award nomination for fiction, 1988 for Wheat that Springeth Green; Wethersfield Institute Award for outstanding literary achievement, 1989.

My introduction to his work was the short story The Warm Sand (seen here), which haunted me for many years. I wrote about the book and tracked it down a few years back in a piece called That Elusive Story. Since tracking it down it has taken me a few years to hunt down all of his published work that I can find. This piece is intended asof those works and over the next few months I will publish reviews of each of them.

Book Chronology:

1947 - The Prince of Darkness and Other Stories
1949 - Cross Country. St. Paul, Home of the Saints.
1956 - The Presence of Grace

1962 - Morte d'Urban - novel
1963 - Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories
1975 - Look How the Fish Live
1988 - Wheat that Springeth Green - novel

1991 - The Old Bird, A Love Story
1999 - The Stories of J. F. Powers

Bibliography:

Prince of Darkness & Other Stories
Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1947, 227p.


Cross Country. St. Paul, Home of the Saints.
Published in the Partisan Review V16 #7 July 1949, p.715-721


Morte d'Urban

Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1962, 336p.

The Presence of Grace
Doubleday & Co., Garden City NY 1956, 191p.

Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories

Time Reading Program Special Edition

New York, New York, 29 p.
(Note all stories in this collection are gleaned from either Prince of Darkness & Other Stories or The Presence of Grace.)

Look How the Fish Live
Knopf, New York, 1975, 190p.


Wheat that Springeth Green
A.A. Knopf, New York, 1988, 335p.


The Old Bird, A Love Story
Signed Numbered limited edition of this soft story. 260 copies were produced, with
wood cut illustrations by Barbara Harman. (note: well worth tracking down even if just for a look.)

The Stories of J. F. Powers
New York Review Books, New York, New York, 1999, 570p.

(Note all stories in this collection are gleaned from either Prince of Darkness & Other Stories, The Presence of Grace or Look How the Fish Live.)

The Short Stories by Volume:



The Prince of Darkness and Other Stories

o The Lord's Day
o The Trouble
o Lions, Harts, Leaping Does
o Jamesie
o He Don't Plant Cotton

o The Forks
o Renner
o The Valiant Woman
o The Eye
o The Old Bird, A Love Story
o Prince of Darkness

The Presence of Grace

o Dawn
o Death of a Favorite
o The Poor Thing

o The Devil Was the Joker
o A Losing Game
o Defection of a Favorite
o Zeal
o Blue Island
o The Presence of Grace

Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories


o Dawn
o The Lord's Day
o The Forks
o The Valiant Woman

o Prince of Darkness
o Zeal
o Death of a Favorite
o Defection of a Favorite

o The Poor Thing
o A losing Game

o The Devil Was the Joker
o Lions, Harts, Leaping Does
o The Presence of Grace


Look How the Fish Live


o Look How the Fish Live
o Bill
o Folks
o Keystone

o One of Them
o Moonshot
o Priestly Fellowship
o Farewell

o Pharisees
o Tinkers

The Stories of J. F. Powers


o The Lord's Day
o The Trouble

o Lions, Harts, Leaping Does
o Jamesie
o He Don't Plant Cotton
o The Forks
o Renner
o The Valiant Woman
o The Eye
o The Old Bird, A Love Story
o Prince of Darkness
o Dawn

o Death of a Favorite
o The Poor Thing
o The Devil Was the Joker
o A Losing Game
o Defection of a Favorite
o Zeal
o Blue Island
o The Presence of Grace
o Look How the Fish Live

o Bill
o Folks

o Keystone
o One of Them

o Moonshot
o Priestly Fellowship
o Farewell
o Pharisees
o Tinkers


Notes on Wheat that Springeth Green:


The book Wheat That Springeth Green can almost be read as a series of short stories. In fact some of the book has been published in short story format in other sources. Chapter 10 of this book is a variation of the short story Bill - in Wheat it appears as Good News. Chapters 16-18 of this book were published in an earlier format as Priestly Fellowship. Finally the short story The Warm Sand was published just a year before the book came out in The Substance of Things Hoped For edited by John Breslin SJ appears in Wheat as chapter 6 Out in the World. Though some of the short stories vary from the chapters in the novels, the fact that they are variations on the same theme make them extremely interesting.

Short Stories, Books and Articles Original Publication Info:

1943 Autumn - Lions, Harts, Leaping Does - Accent
1943 December - Saints on the Air - Catholic Worker
1943 July - Day in the County Jail - Catholic Worker
1943 May - Night in the County Jail - Catholic Worker
1943 Winter - He Don't Plant Cotton - Accent
1944 Fall - The Old Bird, A Love Story - Rocky Mountain Review
1944 November 10th - The Trouble - Commonweal
1944 Spring - Renner - New Mexico Quarterly Review
1944 Winter - Interlude in a Book Shop - Opportunity
1945 August - Blessing - The Sign
1945 August 10th - Dealers in Diamonds and Rhine-Stones - Commonweal
1945 Spring - William Everson: Way Elegies and Waldport Poems - Accent
1945 Summer - William Maxwell: The Folded Leaf, and Walter Van Tilburg The City of Trembling Leaves - Accent
1946 Winter - Prince of Darkness - Accent
1947 - The Eye - In Prince of Darkness and Other Stories
1947 - The Forks - In Prince of Darkness and Other Stories
1947 - The Prince of Darkness and Other Stories - Book
1947 April 26th - Jamesie - Colliers
1947 Spring - The Valiant Woman - Accent
1948 July 16th - Waugh Out West - Commonweal
1948 June 25th - Peter Taylor: A Long Fourth and Other Stories - Commonweal
1948 May - Art, The Moon Prince - Commonweal
1948 October 15th - Fun With A Purpose - Commonweal
1949 August 5th - Short And Select - Commonweal
1949 July - St. Paul Home of the Saints - Partisan Review
1949 May - Refugee - The Month
1949 November 4th - Peddling Fish - Commonweal
1949 October - The Poor Thing - Tomorrow
1950 August 19th - Letter to the Editor - Tablet
1950 July 1st - Death of a Favorite - The New Yorker
1950 Spring - Elizabeth Bowden et Al., Who do I write? - Renascence
1951, November 10th - Defection of a Favorite - The New Yorker
1953 March 21st - The Devil Was the Joker - The New Yorker
1954 Autumn - The Presence of Grace - Accent
1955 Autumn - Blue Island - Accent
1955 November 5th - A Losing Game - The New Yorker
1956 - The Presence of Grace - Book
1956 August 19th - Letter to the Editor: Books on Trial - Tablet
1956 February 10th - Zeal - Commonweal
1956 November 10th - The Green Banana - The New Yorker
1956 Winter - Dawn - Partisan Review
1957 December 21st - A Couple of Nights Before Christmas - The New Yorker
1957 October 31st - Look How the Fish Live - The Reporter
1960 December 10th - Are These Our Children? (AKA - Folks) - The Nation
1960 May 21st - Wrens and Starling - The New Yorker
1960 October 15th - God Writes a Bad Hand - The New
1962 - Morte d'Urban - Novel
1962 April - Twenty-Four Hours in a Strange Diocese - Esquire
1962 July - At Lake Lucille - The Critic
1962 March - The Most a Man Can Do - The Critic
1962 March 3rd - Moonshot - The Nation
1962 November - She Stands Alone - Four Quarters
1962 Spring - Sailing Against the Wind - The Kenyon Review
1963 - Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories - Book
1963 May 12th - National Book Award Address - New York Book Review
1963 May 18th - Keystone - The New Yorker
1965 July - Conscience and Religion - Commentary
1965 May 23rd - The Pesky Side of Paradise - New York Herald Tribune Book Review
1967 Oct-Nov - Cross-Section: Authors in Wonderland - The Critic
1969 May 17th - Bill - The New Yorker
1969, September 27th - Priestly Fellowship - The New Yorker
1971 July-August - One of Them - The Critic
1973 August 6th - Farewell - The New Yorker
1973 November - Dealers in Diamonds and Rhine-Stones - Commonweal
1975 - Look How the Fish Live - Book
1975 August - Pharisees - Commonweal
1977 - The Lord's Day - Cross-Section
1978, January 30th - The Hair Shirt - The New Yorker
1979 March 26th - The Warm Sand - The New Yorker
1987 - The Warm Sand - The Substance of Things Hoped For
1988 - Wheat that Springeth Green - Novel
1991 - The Old Bird, A Love Story - Illustrated Signed Edition
1999 - The Stories of J. F. Powers - Book
Folks - The Nation
Tinkers - American Review


Links to other articles about J.F. Powers:

Wikipedia
The Minnesota Historical Society

The Marrying, Burying World of J. F. Powers
Separation Of Church and Dreck
Clerical character: rereading J.F. Powers
The sins of the fathers
Yardley on Powers
People of the Book
Amy Welborn
The Storyteller
Men of Cloth
Blogtrotter

(I posted all of his cover art I could find here.)

My Reviews and Articles on Powers:

1962 - Morte d'Urban - novel
1963 - Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories
1988 - Wheat that Springeth Green - novel
1991 - The Old Bird, A Love Story - Illustrated Edition
1999 - The Stories of J. F. Powers
J.F. Powers Selected Bibliography
J.F. Powers Book Covers
That Elusive Story
The Warm Sand
Meme Booked By 3 May 2007
Meme Book Meme
Meme Booked by 3 February 2007

RS398 Directed Reading - The Religious Fiction of J.F. Powers
Essay - Why J.F. Powers
The Prince of Darkness and Other Stories
The Presence of Grace
Morte d'Urban
Look How the Fish Live
Wheat that Springeth Green
Essay - J.F. Powers Literary Life and Legacy

Saturday, 13 September 2008

J.F. Powers - Book Covers

I am posting a piece tomorrow on J.F. Powers a sort of literary bibliography, biography. I wanted to post all of the cover art for his books I could find. Over the next few months I plan on rereading the canon of his works, in the order they were published and then publishing reviews of each book. A few years ago I wrote a piece called That Elusive Story about his Powers story The Warm Sand haunted me.

Prince of Darkness & Other Stories
Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1947, 227p.


Morte d'Urban
Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1962, 336p.



The Presence of Grace
Doubleday & Co., Garden City NY 1956, 191p.





Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories
Time Reading Program Special Edition
New York, New York, 29 p.
(Note all stories in this collection are gleaned from either Prince of Darkness & Other Stories or The Presence of Grace.)

Look How the Fish Live
Knopf, New York, 1975, 190p.


Wheat that Springeth Green
A.A. Knopf, New York, 1988, 335p.



The Stories of J. F. Powers
New York Review Books, New York, New York, 1999, 570p.
(Note all stories in this collection are all of the stories from Prince of Darkness & Other Stories, The Presence of Grace or Look How the Fish Live.)
My Reviews and Articles on Powers:

1962 - Morte d'Urban - novel
1963 - Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories
1988 - Wheat that Springeth Green - novel
1991 - The Old Bird, A Love Story - Illustrated Edition
1999 - The Stories of J. F. Powers
J.F. Powers Selected Bibliography
J.F. Powers Book Covers
That Elusive Story
The Warm Sand
Meme Booked By 3 May 2007
Meme Book Meme
Meme Booked by 3 February 2007

RS398 Directed Reading - The Religious Fiction of J.F. Powers
Essay - Why J.F. Powers
The Prince of Darkness and Other Stories
The Presence of Grace
Morte d'Urban
Look How the Fish Live
Wheat that Springeth Green
Essay - J.F. Powers Literary Life and Legacy

Friday, 12 September 2008

This Book Isnt's Fat It's Fabulous by Nina Beck

This Book Isn't Fat It's Fabulous
Nina Beck
Point Press

ISBN 9780545017039

Nina Beck has written a great book. Our heroine is Riley Swain who comes from money, has a best enemy not a best friend, and a guy who is her best friend but whom she has loved for a long time. Riley is content to play the New York Socialite and her manners and behavior would be fit for the tabloids if she were a Spears or a Swank. But since she just goes to an expensive high school, and hangs out with well-to-do friends, she is just the center of attention. But all of that is about to change.

It's her senior year and she has coordinated and planned the senior trip to Mexico for the second week of spring break. But now her Father and soon-to-be step-mom have registered her to go to a Fat Camp at the New Horizons School for Young Ladies. While there, things in her life turn topsy-turvy; she starts falling for a boy who isn't her type and she needs to plan an escape so she can go on the trip and fool her parents. She starts examining her motives and behaviors in a real and profound way. Yet how can it all work out?

She has lied to her best friend the day before leaving New York and she kissed him for the first time and it was not what she expected. She has booked a fake spa week to fool her friends about where she is. She now has a new man in her life, but is not sure what she feels about the old one, and her whole world is crashing down around her.

Riley Swain who says that she is fabulous, and does not care what anybody else says, is now having feelings and is caring for people in ways she never knew she could. Can she untangle her feelings and save her social life that seems destined to crash and burn on Saturday? Read and find out.

This book really is fabulous. I enjoyed it a lot, and lent it to a friend - she was laughing out loud on the first page. This book is not about a fat girl becoming skinny, it is about an unhealthy girl becoming healthy, and that starts on the inside with the emotions. This is one of the best books for young people I have read since Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and like that book, this has a lot to offer to the younger generation, and maybe even something for us older folks.

(First published in Imprint 2008-09-12.)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

A Study of the Easter Texts - An Essay

A Study of the Easter Texts

To work on the gospel texts and the "Easter Accounts", in particular is a very difficult and troubling task. It is very easy to sit back and take faith at face value, but when one is working on the Holy books or sacred texts of their own fa
ith, that task becomes harder. One must constantly be striving to remain objective, yet realize the impossibility or improbability of this task.

With that in mind, I am trying to overcome my own bias and preferences in attempting to examine these texts as I would any other document. Part of the problem this task creates is that it is like reading 4 biographies and two history texts all recounting the same events, but each aimed at a different audience and each through the filters that the individual authors look at the world through. To do such a thing with William Wallace, St. Patrick, Pierre E. Trudeau, or even a denominational leader would be a far far easier task. Here it is easier to accept discrepancies and contradictions. But when the issue is faith, the heart is at war with the mind, making it harder to stay academically focused.

Thus, to endeavor an analysis of these texts, one must first determine where they are similar and where they differ. In order to do this a meticulous reading of the text (breaking them down into the individual components) is required. Chart #1 is an attempt to do just that. As chart 1 indicates, there are many more areas of overlap in these texts than spots where they do not. I will attempt to explain the findings of the chart, condense them into a unified view, and interpret this data. After this
consolidation of the data, there will be an attempt to explain these findings.

Chart #1

As is seen in chart #1, there are 28 key points from the six texts that I have decided to correlate and compare. Of the 28 points 14 of them do not have exact duplicates in more than one text. Yet if one is willing to gloss over minor differences (for various reasons that we will cover later) such as

a. how many women went to the tomb,
b. how many angels appeared at the tomb
c. the location of Jesus appearance(s)

Then we actually have worked the list of specific datum down to 10 events that can be seen here in chart #2.

Chart #2

These 10 events all have at least 2 points of contact between the 6 texts. In fact I will now do a third and final chart that will show the co
rresponding versus for each of these groupings. I will use the Number and lettering codes in reference to these points from this point on. Thus when I make reference to 1a I am referring to Matthew 28:1, or if I make reference to 1 I am referring to the Women (woman) being the first to see the empty tomb. So as can be seen by Chart #3 each of these ten areas of constancy have confirmation from the other texts involved in this study.
Chart #3

Of these ten items only have four of them have confirmation in 4 or more sources thus giving us a 67% confirmation rate. But when we factor in the audience and intended purpose of each text, that is a surprisingly high rate. These 4 areas of greatest consistency are:

i. Women(woman) being the first to the tomb
ii. Angels being at the tomb
iii. Jesus appearing to the disciples (both in Jerusalem and Elsewhere)
iv. Commandment to preach and teach all they have learnt, heard and seen.

I think it is important to note that the women went to the tomb thus, in most accounts were the first to see the risen Jesus. For in a patriarchal culture to have women as the key players in a historical event and a very significant historical event would not have been the common practice. Yet I believe that there is no mistake in this being in the texts. For it is consistent with what we see from Jesus himself in being counter cultural, in having women followers, and women whom he teaches, and even women who pay the bills, or carry the purse's for Jesus and the twelve "male" disciples.

As well, of great significance is the appearance of Angels in all four of the gospel accounts. This clear supernatural intervention must have had a strong impact on the original witnesses to these events. Significant for both building up the faith and belief of those witnesses, and also as a tool in bringing others to faith. Having seen the risen Lord Jesus, and having seen Angels at the tomb. This would have lent great authority to this new sect of Judaism. For the appearance of angels is a very old tradition within the Hebrew history. It would be interesting to know what the effect of this supernatural Angelic influence in the story would have had on the Greek hearers. If they responded as I did with awe and wonder it would be another factor to sway them in belief of these events. For the Jew it would be something they are used to. So the two kinds of "Jesus Followers" would have responded very differently to this specific event.

Not only had Jesus appeared after his death and resurrection, but did so an various times and various places and up to over 500 people having witnessed these events, would have been a great witnessing tool for the early church. For the witness of so many people would be overwhelming evidence to the accuracy of these events.

I also believe it is of great importance that Jesus appeared many times and in many ways after his resurrection. According to these texts, he appeared in Jerusalem, Galilee, on the Road to Emmaus, The Road to Damascus, and others places as well. So that there could be no doubt in this movement's membership, Jesus appeared to them after his death with much proof's and with power, thus enabling the believers to follow his final words to them "To go and make disciples" (10a,b,e,f). It appears Jesus didn't want to just leave behind his little band of followers but that he wanted them to make more believers. This can be seen in 4 of our texts 10a, 10b, 10e, and 10f in each of these cases Jesus commanded them to teach and pass on these traditions.

I started with the idea of trying to explain these texts and there discrepancies. I have come to the conclusion that I can not do such a thing due to space limitations and my own personal limitations. I would need much more research and study to accomplish that task. I can only give some ideals and theories of why there is variance in the datum. Why some things might have been changed, or even just mistakenly reported. That is what I will attempt to do in the next few paragraphs. I will share my belief and thoughts on what that data means. Why do we not have 4 identical gospel accounts, and for what reason do we have for the consistency and inconsistency in the texts?

First that some of the variance may come from the authors intended audience. Luke, for example, was a physician writing to a fellow Roman Citizen. He is not likely going to include as much information on specific Jewish aspects to these events as Matthew does, which is the most Jewish of the gospels.

One of the other possible reasons for slight variations, could be either mistake in retelling in the earliest oral traditions, and copying errors in early texts. Or even deliberate changes by early scribes due to how they thought the story could be told better or with more power.

Yet another possible cause of these variations could be the very fact that we are dealing with matters of faith, and people may have wanted to put some things in a better light then they originally appeared.

As has been stated earlier most of the discrepancies are really minor variances. But there is one large variance that must be addressed here, and that is the one of people touching the risen Jesus. In the Jewish tradition the touching of a dead person would have caused uncleanness. Yet Jesus commands Thomas to touch him. And the contradiction comes in Matthew, the women in the garden touch Jesus (MT 28:9), in John he commands them not to for he has not ascended yet. To be honest I have no understanding or explanation for this contradiction.

This is the most confusing detail in these sections for me. Unlike the others it is not just a slip in numbers or a missed or changed minor detail. It is a true contradiction. And I do not have an answer to it, nor do I want to hypothesize on such a blatant statement. Some thoughts that come to mind make it even more of a contradiction, that of Jews being made unclean by touching the dead. But why then would Matthew have the women touching Jesus? From this there could be two interpretations of the resurrection: The first that Jesus was made clean again by his resurrection, and that he was still unclean from having been dead. The second one is that he never really died, and therefore was not unclean.

I do not have an explanation for this confusing detail. And can not say why it is there in the texts. But this discrepancy does not affect my faith.

As can be seen from this short and inadequate study there appear to be more areas of uniformity then inconsistency when it comes to the biblical texts. What one needs to be able to do, is gloss over minor variations. Then look at the major contradictions and decide which of them will or could affect their faith, or academic pursuit of the material.

(First written for Tom Yoder-Neufeld Ph.D. for RS100F New Testament Survey Winter Term 2000.)