Mock's Curse: Nineteen Stories - T.F. Powys I saw an edition of this at a used bookstore for $40. A bit pricey for me at this time but I'll probably cave in eventually.

I can't explain better why to read Powys than to quote from John Gray's essay on him in The New Statesman:

“In their different ways, all three Powys brothers deserve retrieving or a wider readership, but none more so than Theodore. He is by far the best writer among them, and the most original. The greatest value of his work, though, is in showing that it is still possible to write about the primordial human experiences to which religion is a response. Secular writers tend to steer clear of them, and end up stuck in the shallows of politics or fashion. On the other hand, Christian writers are mostly precious and unpersuasive, like T.S. Eliot, or else more or less openly fraudulent, like Graham Greene. Very few 20th-century authors have the knack of writing convincingly of first and last things. A religious writer without any vestige of belief, Theodore Powys is one of them.”

The 19 stories in this collection take place in the same milieu as many of Powys’ other books – the countryside of England and they’re populated by the same cast of characters. All the stories are good but my favorites in this collection were:

“Mr. Pompey Seeks Preferment” – When the Parish Clerk’s position falls open upon the incumbent’s death Mr. Pompey sets out to obtain it by acting like a lost soul needing redemption. It’s a good example of Powys’ gentle humor and satire.

“Thou Shalt Commit” – This is a hilarious story about a husband and wife who strive to obey all of God’s commandments. The trouble is that they are in possession of one of the notorious “Wicked Bibles” of 1631, wherein the word “not” was omitted in the seventh commandment – “Thou shalt commit adultery.”

As with all of Powys’ works I’ve read so far, I can’t recommend this enough.