By Jesse Bogan
It was this small town’s day in the sun.
First lady Laura Bush helped dedicate author Katherine Anne Porter’s childhood home Thursday as a National Literary Landmark, as many of the 130 guests in the yard of the small frame house held their invitations above their heads to block the Central Texas sun.
Porter, who died in 1980, was famous for her prose and short stories. In 1962 she wrote “Ship of Fools,” and four years later won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter.”
She is the first lady’s favorite author.
Mrs. Bush said she admired Porter’s writing because it “captured the essence of life and our imaginations.”
She said reading Porter’s work “helps us come to appreciate the Texas of her youth.”
“With this landmark designation,” said Mrs. Bush, a former school librarian, “we honor the legacy of a native Texan who enhanced the landscape of American literature and inspired readers and writers alike.”
Mrs. Bush said she hopes that the Katherine Anne Porter Young Writer’s Program that will be based out of the home this summer will mold more writers.
“Maybe it will be the birthplace for another Texas legend,” she said.
The home is owned by Preservation Associates Inc. of Kyle and is leased to Southwest Texas State University. It serves as a museum. Southwest Texas also uses it for its writer-in-residence program.
She was married three times and lived many places —— New York, Mexico, France, Switzerland — but great writers come from places such as Kyle, said Tim O’Brien, a National Book Award winner and one-time writer-in-residence at her home.
“She looked at the detail of life, the nasty and the beautiful,” he said after the ceremony. “It gets to your heart. That’s a sign of a good book. Katherine Anne Porter’s books have always gotten to my heart.”
The literary landmark is Texas’s second. The Austin home of O. Henry — whose real name, coincidentally, was William Sidney Porter — was the state’s first.