The Disembodied Revolution
52 Guitars: Week 30

Coming in January: 52 Authors!

You're meant to hear that mentally in the breathless tone of a movie trailer voice-over. I'd like to work one up but I don't have any of the skills needed, so just imagine it.

In comments on one of the 52 Guitars posts, the commenter who calls himself El Miserable suggested that next year I do 52 authors. I said there was no way I could manage that, so Grumpy proposed sharing the fun, assigning various people to write about five writers, leaving me with twenty or so. That's still a little questionable, but I'm game. I'm not sure I can write about writers as briefly as I do about guitar players, and I've had difficulty with that. But we'll see.

I propose, further, that the project be open to anyone who wants to participate, and that the number of writers per person to be written about be a maximum of five, with the option to do fewer, in case five seems like too many for some people who might otherwise like to play. And I guess if you really want to do more than five, why not?--unless it would require not letting someone else participate, and I very much doubt that that will be a problem. 

I've created a page (like a blog post, but not associated with a date, and stays put) where a roster and a schedule will be maintained--see the "Here" section of the sidebar, where it will stay. Several people, including the two above-mentioned, have already, in that same discussion, claimed their authors, and those are listed there. (Let me know if there are any mistakes or omissions.) I'll consider those taken unless the claimant changes his or her mind. There's a list by participant and by author, but as yet there is no schedule. Since it's only late July, there's plenty of time to fill that out, but if you want to pick a week now, let me know.

I think we should keep the guidelines for content pretty open. This is a Catholic blog, and I would reserve the right to refuse to publish, for instance, a scabrous attack on the faith (an intelligent argument would be different), or a lengthy excerpt from the works of the Marquis de Sade. But on the other hand you don't have to strictly toe the Catholic line. And if you want to write a small critical essay, fine. Or if you only want to say "I think X is great" and post some excerpts to justify your praise, that's ok, too. Chances are good that I will do that with some of mine. Just because this is a blog, the pieces need to be relatively small: let's say 600-1200 words as a general guideline, but feel free to go up over 2000 if you really have a lot to say. My impression is that online pieces much longer than 2000 words don't get read.

A word about the word "author": for some reason I tend to avoid using it, and I'm not sure why. It sounds slightly stilted, or something...can't put my finger on it...and I thought about using "writer" instead. But at least in my mind I tend to apply that word to novelists and journalists, and not to, say, philosophers or theologians or critics. And I do think non-fiction (and poetry) should be included in this, so I'll stick with El Miserable's original term, authors. 

If you haven't already joined in and would like to, post a comment here with the names of the writer(s) you'd like to discuss. Or email me--see the Profile link for the address. Obviously, as the people mentioned earlier indicate, there's no requirement that you use your real name. That's up to you.

If you're not used to dealing with word counts and are wondering how long a 600-word piece is: this one is 643.


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I want to change GG & Van Stockum for Thomas Howard and Sheldon Vanauken.

And it's Nesbit.


I want to change mine. I can't see this 'here' roster - can't find it on the page.


It is on the right under "Recent Comments," "Recent Posts," and "Subscribe to This Blog's Feed."

I meant for it to be at the top of the "Here" list--I'll change that. Also make any corrections needed.

As of now I'll take Mark Helprin, Madison Jones, Marion Montgomery and Ronald Blythe.

I thought about W. Berry and Roger Scruton but I'm not sure I could do either of them justice. Maybe if no one else takes Berry I'll give it a shot.

No maybe I will stick with that.

Plenty of time to change your choices, unless someone else has already spoken for one you want. Then I guess you could wheel and deal...

I've made these changes. It would be a good idea, whenever you ask for a change, to check later that I got it right, because I can see already that it would be easy for me to make a mistake.

Funny, I thought it was "Nesbit", but then thought "No, it's backwards from what you think it should be" and made it "Nisbet" instead. Don't know what gave me that idea.

I see we have roughly half the year accounted for. That's a good start.

If Robert Nisbet married E. Nesbit...

Remember those old gags from Laugh-In?

ooh! so exciting!

I think so too, Louise. I hope I still think so when I get stuck in the mire.


If you don't mind something a bit lowbrow, I can do you a piece on the late sci-fi author Robert Sheckley.

Not at all. I'll be doing at least one mystery writer.

I don't remember those jokes, Rob (only saw Laugh-In a few times), but probably Robert Nisbet is the source of my confusion.

Well godescalc, I would think with my doing Dean Koontz, you shouldn't worry about lowbrow.


Ha! I should do Asimov!

Actually, does anyone want A.C. Doyle?

Janet just called me to service. Give me Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, Wendell Berry, W.H. Auden, and a player to be named later.


Rob, that takes the Berry monkey off your back, whether that's a relief or a disappointment to you.

godescalc, shall I consider that definite?

Robert, go ahead and claim Doyle if you like--that's not who I had in mind. I definitely want Ross Macdonald, but that may be the only mystery writer I do. And if you want to do Asimov, go ahead.

In my mind it isn't only the author that's of interest, it's just as much what you have to say about him/her. The author could be terrible, if the work serves as an occasion for saying something interesting. For instance, Flannery O'Connor has something interesting to say about Ayn Rand: "She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky," if I remember correctly.

I think I'm ready to name my fifth: Sherwood Anderson.

Ok. Interesting choice. Is there anything besides Winesburg? I really don't know anything about him beyond that.

Very glad to have you participating--and thanks for the recruiting effort, Janet.:-)

That's definite, Mac. Also I can do Imre Madách, whose "Tragedy of Man" is bizarre and remarkable.

I better get all those movies watched because I can tell there's going to be a lot of stuff I want to read next year.


Those jokes were always something along the lines of, "If Rooney Mara married Mickey Rooney, then divorced him and married George Clooney, then divorced him and married John Woo, she'd be Rooney Rooney Clooney Woo!"

I wish that could happen.

That's a hoot, Rob.

Ditto, Janet, about the reading.

I've never heard of Imre Madách but "bizarre and remarkable" sounds good. I'm going to learn a lot from this. I will make those updates to the assignment list soon.

There are several novels and more short stories, but Winesburg, Ohio and his relationship with Faulkner and Hemingway justify the pick. I hope someone picks Muriel Spark.

I hope that Sally will pick Muriel Spark. She's on vacation at the moment, but she means to do something.


That reminds me of a Muriel Spark post I'v been meaning to do for weeks. I think I'll make it my next one. It won't take the place of whatever someone else might do.

We've got fewer than 20 slots left to fill now. That's great. I guess I better go ahead and pick some more of mine.

I think I want to add one - can I do six? I think I will do

Hume - some kind of selected writings, whatever I can find - I saw a selection from Penguin in a bookshop quite recently.
Pascal - Pensees
von Balthasar - Love Alone is Credible.
Jean Danielou - The Bible and the Liturgy
Ida Gorres - Broken Lights

Plus ONE

L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time.

Plus TWO

Stuart Little

Sure, why not? Stuart Little is E.B. White, right?

Yes - that would give me seven.

I might also do The Trumpet of the Swan. That's another favourite by EB White. I might do EB white in general.
His children's books. The Trumpet of the Swan is about this mute Trumpet Swan who carries a trumpet.

Ok, you're down for Madeleine L'Engle and E.B. White.

I tried White a few times when my children were young, but though the books were well done I couldn't get enthusiastic.

I love Trumpet of the Swan. Becca read it to me when she was about 10 or 11 and she did an excellent job.


The mention of Muriel Spark made me think of Penelope Fitzgerald, mostly because they were contemporaries. Anyway, I think I'd like to try my hand at a write-up on Fitzgerald.

Very good, I'll put you down for her. I don't know anything about Fitzgerald beyond vaguely recognizing the name.

One of my children recorded a lot (all?) of the first Harry Potter book for me. She re-used the same tape as we progressed through the book, so I don't have it all, but it was great. I still have the tape--need to digitize it while I still can.

Becca read most of those to me, too. I really miss that.


Marianne, I recently read 'The Bookshop' by Penelope Fitzgerald. Its a wonderful evocation of Norfolk (where my family have lived now for a couple of decades so I spend time there). Before that all I had read was her group biography of the Knox brothers. I used to know one of her cousins, who was a much less successful novelist. So I never read Fitzgerald out of kind of misplaced loyalty. I'm looking forward to reading more now.

The Bible and the Liturgy--a great choice. One of two Danielou I own. The other is God and the Ways of Knowing.

If you are doing White, you should do Strunk and White, too! :)

The Trumpet of the Swan didn't impress me, but I certainly like Charlotte'e Web. "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer."

Mac, maybe you are going to have to extend it beyond 52!

That might be optimistic, Robert. We have to do the assignments first :)

Yeah, let's see if we can actually deliver one year.

I'm babysitting 2-and-4-year-old grandsons today, so don't expect to hear much from me.

Grumpy, I read two or three of Penelope Fitzgerald's novels and some of her collected essays years ago, and just recently picked up a copy of her The Blue Flower at a library book sale. It was one I'd read before, but I'd forgotten just how good it is. It also has that "wonderful evocation" of place that you mention. Overall, a very spare style with perfect-pitch touches that sort of sneak up on you.

I'm babysitting 2-and-4-year-old grandsons today, so don't expect to hear much from me.

Perhaps every again.



Late to the party (and I feel I ought to introduce myself or something, because I so rarely comment).

Anyway -- are there any weeks left?

I could do . . .

*English poet Gillian Allnutt (my current obsessive read)

*Rumer Godden

*Alice Thomas Ellis

*Muriel Spark

*Ruth Pitter

*Janet also suggested Eudora Welty, though I think she and I ought to converse about Delta Wedding . . . that might be more interesting than me banging on about it.

Depending on how many weeks there are and what other people want to do, I could do any or all of these. I really want to do Gillian Allnutt, though, because she's probably the most obscure (to Americans, anyway), and I'm in love with her poems.

But I will happily do Muriel Spark.

That would be great, Sally--any or all. There are definitely enough slots. I can't recall even hearing Gillian Allnutt's name before. I hope you won't mind if I steal a bit of Spark thunder, though--as I mentioned above I've been wanting to mention something I recently read by her. Not a well-known work, though.

For those who don't know, Sally is an excellent poet in her own right: see my review of her Brief Light.

I think I'm going to go ahead and claim Eliot, btw.

Sorry, been too busy to update the list, which I have now done. Sally, I went ahead and put you down for all the names you mention, but let me know if you change your mind.


That's what I think.

Glad you survived the babysitting, Maclin. :-)


"I'm babysitting 2-and-4-year-old grandsons today, so don't expect to hear much from me."

Aww. Such cute little fellows!

They are extremely cute, and it actually went very well.

I hope you're right, Grumpy and Janet.

Sorry, I meant to say extremely.

I'm sure


I mean, I'm sure they are extremely cute.


I meant to say earlier, Maclin, that I hope you get a chance to write that Muriel Spark post soon. You've aroused my curiosity. I'm wondering if I've read whatever it is you are talking about.


I'm going to try to do it tomorrow (Sunday).

You can put me down for any or all of Edith Stein, Christopher Derrick and Mary Douglas, depending on how many slots are left.

One reason I am really looking forward to this is that almost everyone (or maybe everyone) who is writing has some experience writing something, even if it's only a blog, and I enjoy the way you all write. I don't always agree with everything everyone says on this blog, but when I don't agree, it's not because the comment is irrational or snarky or offensive anything. So I'm not just looking forward to reading about the authors and their works, but to reading about them in your voices.


Well, darn it. It seems you can't go on holidays for even a week around here without missing something.

Next year is shaping up to be one wild ride around here, but against my better judgment I'll volunteer to do Chesterton and Thomas Mann? Or Waugh? Or the Pearl poet? No, forget it. Just put me down for Chesterton for now. Discretion is the better part of valour.

I was wondering where you were.


I hate to have to say this, because I would really love for you to contribute, but Louise has already spoken for both Chesterton and Belloc. You could perhaps try to bribe her. The others you name are all still up for grabs, though. I'll consider them all taken for the moment (not that you'd likely have any competition for Mann), and you can let me know if you want to make any or all of them definite.

Oh heck, my bad, I had not properly recorded Louise's Chesterton claim. I've fixed that now. I had "Chesterbelloc" by her name, but had only entered Belloc in the author list.

It would be a good idea, when y'all pick an author, to check after a day or so and see if entered it correctly in the sidebar list.

I'm logging yours now, Paul. All good choices.

Me, too, Janet. (4:02)

I was about to count the authors spoken for when I remembered the numbered list feature in html. We're up to 47--wow! And I've only taken two. This is great.

Sorry, only 46. You didn't take van Stockum (or Stockum I think you have) off the list.


Sorry, Craig. Bribery might work though. :)

Sorry, fixed.

Oh, that's alright, Louise. It's my fault for not reading the list carefully enough.

More mine for not making the list clear. Sorry!

I'd like to do Rosemary Sutcliff and Mary Renault together (in one post, I mean).

Rosemary Sutcliff is a great choice. (I'm not familiar with Mary Renault; she's probably a good choice too.)

This is going to be an education. I've only heard of 27 of 46. I've only actually read anything by 22. Some of them just a random poem (Auden) or essay(Belloc). And, of course, five of those are ones I'm doing.

Robert I just saw that you picked Chaim Potok. Good choice! I might have picked him if I'd thought about him.


Thanks, Anne-Marie. I will update the list later today. I've seen Mary Renault's books around but haven't even heard of Rosemary Sutcliff.

I bet your kids had some Rosemary Sutcliff when they were in school. They are historical novels and pretty popular in homeschooling circles.


That brings the number up to 48, and I have one tentative claim by email, so I'll reserve a slot for that. So only three left. I can think of several I might add if nobody else claims the slots, but please do speak up if you'd like to do one or two or three. In fact I can give up a slot or two--I'm rather liking the idea that y'all are going to be doing most of the work.

When and how should we submit articles? Is text with html tags OK?

Mac, I notice I'm not on the official schedule yet. If there's still room, I'll commit to doing Thomas Mann, Evelyn Waugh, and the Pearl poet. Though I am going to reserve to myself the option of substituting a different author if one of those proves too daunting!

Ok, great, I thought you were just thinking out loud, not committing to them. I'll be interested in hearing about Mann, whom I've never read. Though one problem with this whole deal is that I'm going to want to have read something by all the authors before reading the commentaries, which will be impossible.

Regarding format, godescalc, text with html is perfect. Really anything except some obscure word processor format would be ok. Plain text would be easy but you wouldn't have any formatting except paragraphs. You can email the material to me: gmail, maclin dot horton.

As to when, we still have plenty of time before we need to have a schedule ready, but if anyone wants to pick specific weeks, go ahead and let me know, and I'll add a schedule to the info page.

I was thinking that, too, about having to read something by all the authors. If I keep reading this blog, I'm obviously going to have to quit my job and hole myself up somewhere with Netflix and my Kindle.


Yes, get your priorities straight.

Probably in October or so we should begin the early prep work for 2016: 52 movies! ;-)

Ha. That thought had crossed my mind.

Do you ever feel like you're losing control, Maclin?


Nah, as long as I'm the only one who has the password.

That thought had not crossed my mind, but it's a great idea. But we can wait till sometime in 2015 to get started.

I'll also volunteer for Robert Burton. It may have to be later in the year, though, as it will take a while to do the required reading - his magnum opus is a formidable tome, densely written and suitable for beating a rhinoceros to death with.

If you will actually use it to beat a rhinoceros to death, and send a video, we will give you extra credit.


I've always wanted to read Anatomy of Melancholy. Your commentary may be as close as I get, godescalc.

No CS Lewis???

Orson Scott Card too! I'll trumpet him till I die!

The will of the people, by which this project is governed, has not yet bestowed its favor upon either of them. Do you want to volunteer?

I suspect the reason nobody picked Lewis is that we've all read him and about him for so long that there doesn't seem a lot to say. But then, the same could be said of Tolkien and Chesterton, both of whom are spoken for.

And do you mean Orson Scott Card the notorious homophobe? :-/

I could tackle Orson Scott Card, but not CS Lewis. And yes, THAT Orson Scott Card.

You may notice that I have two Lewis scholars and will almost certainly have to bring him into it.

Maybe we ought to have a grand Lewis finale and everyone write a bit. Shoot. I could do 52 weeks of Lewis all by myself.

But I'm a little tired of him.


Actually, there are quite a few authors missing here like--Houselander, Goudge, & Waugh and I've thought about Heather King and Mary Karr. We've talked about the first three a lot though, and I've already written quite a bit about King.


I was surprised there is no Houselander

Somewhat o/t, but has anyone read Beha's What Happened to Sophie Wilder? I finished it this morning and was wondering what anyone thought.

Not I.

I might yet do Houselander. There are still three or four openings and I'll fill them if no one else does. Goudge is another. Actually I was thinking I had picked her but she's not on the official list, so maybe I was just considering it.

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