November 21, 2011

Top 10 Thanksgiving Guests

For this week's Top 10 Tuesday, the gang at The Broke and The Bookish have asked us which authors we would like to invite to our Thanksgiving dinner.  An interesting question, and certainly one I hadn't given any thought to until they mentioned it.  I thought it would take me longer than it actually did to come up with 10 names, but once I got started, the ideas flowed pretty freely.  To invite most on my list to a dinner, I would have to turn the meal into a seance, complete with medium and Ouija board, but since we're dreaming, lets dream on a COLOSSAL scale, shall we?  I'm completely astounded at myself that I DIDN'T think of Jane Austen until I read Tahleen's list, but I didn't, and my list is already full, so we will carry on with it as I originally compiled it.

10.  Stephen Fry--I just watched a documentary special he did for the BBC called Stephen Fry in America, in which he visited all 50 states and observed us wacky Americans in our native habitat for the benefit of his compatriots.  He discussed us with a great deal of patient and bemused sympathy, and I know that he makes a witty, pleasant Thanksgiving dinner guest, because he actually went to such a dinner while on his travels.

9.  Michael Palin--The Python who pioneered the sort of tongue-in-cheek travel documentary that I described above is also hilarious, a very intelligent and entertaining writer, and would no doubt lighten up the tension wonderfully if any family holiday drama broke out.  Besides, I'm just aching to meet a Python before they all drop off the twig!

8.  Fr. Alexander Schmemann--From the ridiculous to the sublime.  Schmemann was one of the greatest Eastern Orthodox theologians of the 20th century, and it was his writings, in part, which helped me through the process of conversion.  However, it is for a simpler and more beautiful reason that I would particularly like to have him visit for Thanksgiving.  He gave his last homily on Thanksgiving day, in the chapel at St. Vladimir's Seminary (from which I graduated), and it is a sermon which echoes the overpowering voice of God in its spare, elegant phrases.  The homilist is obviously a man who knows he will soon die and can honestly say, "It is well with my soul."  I read that sermon aloud every year when we pray over the meal, but I'd love it if Fr. Schmemann could be here to read it himself just once.

7.  St. Gregory the Theologian--Known in the Western church as St. Gregory of Nazianzus, this partiarch of Constantinople could write a festal oration like nobody else in the history of Christianity.  I would love to hear the homily he would write for the occasion if he could be present at a modern Thanksgiving celebration!  (Although, he'd probably rip the metaphorical flesh off our figurative hides with a blistering indictment of commercialism, consumerism and over-indulgence, and that would likely put quite a damper on things.)

6.  Douglas Adams--Whatever else you can or cannot say about the author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, he certainly would make one lively conversationalist over a good meal, and could easily fill any awkward silences with something worth hearing.

5.  Ellen Raskin--The Westing Game has been one of my all-time favorite books since I first discovered it at the age of 10 (by which time the author was already the LATE Ellen Raskin).  I would've loved to have just one evening's conversation with the woman, who had a fascinating mind and knew how to keep me spell-bound with everything of hers that I've ever read.

4.  Chaim Potok--With so many great writers to choose from, I know just how bold this statement is, but if I could resurrect any one modern author and meet him or her, I would probably choose Chaim Potok.  The profound impact this man's books have had on my life--at least, on my internal/mental life--can hardly be overstated.  He was an extraordinary writer, with an almost supernatural power to his words.  If you've never read My Name is Asher Lev and its sequel The Gift of Asher Lev, you must read them once before you die.  It will be time well-spent, I promise.

3.  Nathaniel Hawthorne--I must confess, the author of The Scarlet Letter is basically on the list for two reasons: 1) He knew enough about his Puritan ancestry to be able to entertain us with some interesting stories about the "first Thanksgiving".  2) This knowledge he had was also extensive enough that it led to his famous disgust with and guilt feelings over the religious behavior of his forebears.  He could set my Fundamentalist in-laws straight if they wax rhapsodic about the "good old days" of Puritans building their "shining city on a hill" and colonizing the New World in order to flee religious persecution.

2.  J.K. Rowling--Is there ever a time when you DON'T want to meet J.K. Rowling?  (Except maybe if you've just gotten accidentally covered in mimbulus mimbletonia juice.)  Don't we all want to have a one-on-one chat with her for a while?

1.  Charles Dickens--For my holiday reading this year, I've chosen a couple of Dickens' famous Christmas Books.  Given that he had a reputation during his lifetime as an awesome vocal performer of his own works, what better way could there be to celebrate Thanksgiving and kick off the Christmas season than by listening to Charles Dickens give a recitation of A Christmas Carol?


  1. very interesting list of authors.

  2. Fry, Palin and Adams - what a fantastic thought! :)
    Here’s my Top Ten Tuesday post. :)

  3. I love your inclusion of Nathaniel Hawthorne and St. Gregory. Should make for a very interesting gathering!
    Happy Tuesday!

  4. That is a very eclectic group, it would make for an interesting Thanksgiving!

  5. lol...I have no idea who most of those are...Hawthorne would probably freak me out...I'd be hiding behind JK Rowling the whole time

  6. Douglas Adams and Charles Dickens! Great choices, I didn't even think of them and now I feel remiss in my list :)

  7. Hmm interesting what you said about Asher Lev. I had my hand on a copy of that just recently but I knew nothing about it. Sounds like maybe I need to go back and give it a closer look.

  8. I don't think there would ever be a time when I wouldn't want to meet JK Rowling. :)

  9. Please seat me near Rowling!! I not aware of the others!! Surely an eclectic bunch. :)

  10. I forgot about Rowling! How could I? I also forgot Rex Stout, who I know would have been a great guest. That's what happens when you have lists to compile in rush. Jeez.

    Loved your list.

  11. Douglas Adams! Yes! Quite an eclectic group...but what else should we expect?

    And I won't mention that I may be one of the few people on the planet who really doesn't care if she ever meets J. K. Rowling.

    Here's my guest list:

  12. I haven't heard of any of these authors but JK Rowling - I'll have to check them out!


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