Wheat That Springeth Green by J.f. PowersWheat That Springeth Green by J.f. Powers

Wheat That Springeth Green

byJ.f. PowersIntroduction byKatherine A. Powers

Paperback | May 31, 2000

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Wheat That Springeth Green, J. F. Powers's beautifully realized final work, is a comic foray into the commercialized wilderness of modern American life. Its hero, Joe Hackett, is a high school track star who sets out to be a saint. But seminary life and priestly apprenticeship soon damp his ardor, and by the time he has been given a parish of his own he has traded in his hair shirt for the consolations of baseball and beer. Meanwhile Joe's higher-ups are pressing for an increase in profits from the collection plate, suburban Inglenook's biggest business wants to launch its new line of missiles with a blessing, and not all that far away, in Vietnam, a war is going on. Joe wants to duck and cover, but in the end, almost in spite of himself, he is condemned to do something right.

J. F. Powers was a virtuoso of the American language with a perfect ear for the telling cliché and an unfailing eye for the kitsch that clutters up our lives. This funny and very moving novel about the making and remaking of a priest is one of his finest achievements.
J. F. Powers (1917-1999) was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, and studied at Northwestern University while holding a variety of jobs in Chicago and working on his writing. He published his first stories in The Catholic Worker and, as a pacifist, spent thirteen months in prison during World War II. Powers was the author of three collecti...
Title:Wheat That Springeth GreenFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8 × 5 × 0.85 inPublished:May 31, 2000Publisher:New York Review BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0940322242

ISBN - 13:9780940322240

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deep insight 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 his 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.
Date published: 2008-10-22

Editorial Reviews

"Jim Powers was a great old Irish master who God plopped down in Minnesota as a joke, a dark wit on the prairie, and he left behind a small satchel of unforgettable writing." — Garrison Keillor

"There is not a misplaced comma, not a wrong word…Powers set up his sentences to explode at the end, so that there are marvelous little internal combustions going off like firecrackers all over the page." — Donna Tartt, Harpers