Arthur Powers

Arthur Powers went to Brazil with the Peace Corps in 1969 and lived most his adult life in that country. From 1985 to 1992, he and his wife served with the Franciscan Friars in the Amazon, organizing rural workers’ unions and subsistence farmer groups in a region of violent land conflicts. Subsequently he directed Catholic Relief Services in Brazil. The Powers currently live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Powers received a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, three annual awards for short fiction from the Catholic Press Association, and 2nd place in the 2008 Tom Howard Fiction Contest. In 2011, he was a finalist in the Press 53 Short Story Open Awards, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His short stories and poetry have appeared in America, Chicago Tribune Magazine, Christianty & Literature, Dappled Things, Dreams & Visions, Hiram Poetry Review, Kansas Quarterly, Liguorian, Prime Number, Roanoke Review, St. Anthony Messenger, South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, Texas Quarterly, Windhover, Worcester Review, and many other magazines and anthologies.

Book Reviews by Arthur Powers

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Tobit's Dog

“You should read this book,” Marguerite – the owner of In His Name, our local Catholic book store – told me.  She has started a section of North Carolina writers, and Richard’s book was right next to mine.  She knows books, and when she recommends one, I read it. 

I’m glad I did.  Tobit’s Dog is a wonderful, engaging story.  I picked it up and read it right through, thoroughly enjoying every moment of it. 

Set in Eastern North Carolina in the 1930s, Tobit’s Dog is a retelling of the Biblical story of Tobit.  But to say...

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Beyond: A Collection of Metaphysical Short Stories

Ron Teachworth has written a collection of eleven short stories, aimed primarily (I believe) at high school aged readers.  The settings of the stories vary geographically – New Mexico, Prince Edward Island, Detroit – even one in Mont-Saint-Michel.   The author clearly enjoys working with the different settings, and often does it quite well.  His portrayal of a small New Mexican town, located along the high tension wires that run north of Albuquerque, captures the dry semi-poverty yet strong community of such places.  The stories are also set in a variety of time periods, from the 193...

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Eleven-year-old Polly Peabody lives on a rhubarb farm with her mother, father, brother, sister, and aunt.  It is a magical farm in a mythical Midwestern state that has mountains and is plagued with drought (Van Cleve’s whimsical geography reminds me of my sister’s when we were kids – my sister thought Arizona bordered on Illinois).  In this water-starved region, the farm has a special blessing: it rains there, only on the farm, every Monday at precisely one o’clock in the afternoon.

Polly’s kindly, science-nerd father – deeply involved with exp...

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The Tragedy of King Lewis the Sixteenth

This book is so unique, it is almost impossible to give it a star rating.

Except where morally compelled to do otherwise, one has to accept an author on his or her own premises. All of us receive questions as to why we write what we write, or why we don’t write it entirely differently... comments that often astound us. One writes what one is called to write.

David Lane was called to write an Elizabethan drama about King Louis XVI of France . This may seem odd, as Louis lived a couple of hundred years after Shakespeare, but it is as it is. The title also seems odd – Lane uses the Anglicized...

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Clare's Costly Cookie

Clare is perhaps nine or ten years old.  She lives in a loving, supportive, Catholic home with her mom and dad, her older brother and sister, and her younger brother.  The book is a series of nineteen conversations that Clare has with Jesus (related by Clare in the first person).

In each conversation, Clare talks with Jesus – presenting an issue, often relating to her having done something she shouldn’t, or wanting to do something she shouldn’t, or getting in trouble – but sometimes her query is just a concern or a thought.  At the end of this presentation, we are in...

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Just A Little Talk

In 2009, Anthony Crescio’s best friend was killed in an auto accident, caused by drunk driving. Since that time, Mr. Crescio has dedicated time talking with youth groups about the issue of drinking and driving. This background is important to understanding his book.

Dominic and his best friend since childhood, Eddy, are drinking. Dominic is driving – they crash and Eddy is killed.

Eight years later, Dominic is released from serving a term for manslaughter. He takes a bus to Riverdale, his home town. Getting off the bus, he starts walking to his home, but he is weighed down by remorse and f...

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Morris West, the Australian Catholic writer, is perhaps best known for his The Shoes of the Fisherman. Cassidy, published in 1986, is a later work.

West sets a promising tone at the beginning:

“Charles Parnell Cassidy – God rest his soul! – was the perfect specimen of an Irish politician. They’re a migratory tribe, so you find them everywhere: Boston, New York, Chile, Vatican City, Liverpool, Peru and Sydney, Australia. They’re hardy, longevitous, resistant to infection by disease or new ideas, little modified by regional influences.”

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The Octave Of All Souls

Each November, during the eight days beginning on All Souls Day, J.T. (a self-described spinster and lifelong resident of the fictional town of Strathearn, Ontario) goes to the Catholic cemetery to pray for the souls of fellow townspeople who have died that year.

“I count up the total number of names from the obituaries in the Strathearn Weekly News.... I then divide by eight, and that’s my quota of souls to pray for for any particular day. Since last November, the total has worked out to be 13.125 [for each of the eight days]. ... Souls are not divisible, of course, so I add any extr...

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The Black Eagle

Marco Da Vita, a teenager living in Palermo, Italy, is mourning his brother, Tommaso, who disappeared a year ago. The brothers were very close and Tommaso, although eighteen months younger, was a leader among their friends. Marco’s grief is shared by those friends, most notably Piero the “Poet” and sweet Cristina, who silently adores Marco.

Then one morning Marco is contacted by a strange and beautiful girl. She brings news that Tommaso is not dead but is in need of help from Marco and their friends.

So begins Fulvio Di Blasi’s lively adventure story. The tale involv...

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The Bible Salesman: A Novel

North Carolina, 1950. Preston Clearwater, a petty criminal involved in car theft, picks up a hitchhiker near a small mountain town. The hitchhiker, twenty-year-old Henry Dampier, is earning his living as a door-to-door Bible salesman.

Preston immediately spots that Henry is naïve – Henry is accurately described as a boy – and decides he can make use of him. He easily persuades Henry that he – Preston – is an undercover FBI agent and recruits Henry as his deputy, sworn to secrecy. He then has Henry drive stolen cars from pick up spots (Preston has done the actual stealing) to d...

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Bad Faith: A Sister Agatha Mystery

Mary Naughton was a bit wild in school – an independent girl who went on to become an investigative journalist and a professor of journalism.  In her early thirties, nursing her much-loved dying brother Kevin, she begins to feel a call to deeper faith.  Following Kevin’s death, she enters a monastery of the (fictional) Sisters of the Blessed Adoration, located in her New Mexico home town.

When we meet her, it is twelve years later and she is Sister Agnes – novice mistress and one of two extern nuns for the cloister.  Forty-five, with painful arthritis in her hands, she sti...

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George Washington Crosby – retired manual arts teacher, methodical repairer of clocks – is dying on a hospital bed in the Massachusetts home he built fifty years before.  Surrounded by family he barely recognizes, in familiar surroundings that suddenly seem strange, he drifts back in time and his story intertwines with the stories of his father and, to a lesser extent, grandfather.

The grandfather, sketched in lightly, was a Methodist minister – a saintly man who succumbed to premature dementia and gradually faded away.  His pr...

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The Red Priest's Annina

1721.  Mantua.  Fourteen year old Annina Giró’s talent for singing is recognized by the Duke of Massa Carrara, who offers to sponsor her studies. Leaving her family, she goes to Venice, hoping to study with Antonio Vivaldi—priest and composer—called the “red priest” because of the color of his hair.

In Venice, Annina stays in a boarding house for female singers run by the well-named Signora Malvolia.  The house and its head mistress are dominated by the beautiful Chiara Orlandi—opera star and the Duke’s current mistress. Chiara senses a rival—Annina is far prettier than she herself realiz...

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The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter

Short stories are the chamber music of literature, using the same instruments to create, on a smaller scale, a different and complementary art form. Katherine Anne Porter was a deft short story writer.

I had no idea that Porter was a Catholic when I picked up her Stories. She was simply one of those authors I always intended to read. Almost immediately, I sensed a Catholic world view – which was quickly reinforced by Catholic characters and references.

Brief biographical research turned up the following: Porter was born in 1890 into a Protestant family in Texas, but studied in a conve...

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Sign-up for this free weekly e-newsletter and receive the free article - "What is Catholic Fiction?" Read the weekly column The Catholic Imagination and You and more.