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 Ingleok's biggest business wants to launch its new line of missiles with a blessing, and t 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 cliche and an unfailing eye for the kitsch that clutters up our lives. This funny and very moving vel 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 collections of short stories and two novels-Morte D'Urban, which won the National Book Award, and Wheat That Springeth Green-all of which have been reissued by New York Review Books. He lived in Ireland and the United States and taught for many years at St John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Katherine A. Powers is a long-time champion of the novels of Raymond Kennedy. She is a freelance book critic and writes a literary column for the Barnes and Noble Review. She is the editor of a forthcoming volume, Suitable Accommodations: The Letters of J. F. Powers, 1942 - 1963. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.