During this year of dramatic reorientation Wiseblood Books brought ten new books into being:
Duty, the Soul of Beauty: Henry James on the Beautiful Life, by First Things editor R.R. Reno. The essay, selected as a “critic’s pick” by The New Criterion, reexamines the moral reckonings of James’ late fiction. As James Panero wrote, “this forty-page chapbook with French folds is both beautiful and duty-bound.”
The Tragedy of the Republic, by the great Catholic political philosopher Pierre Manent, interrogates several of our current crises through a reading of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus and Julius Caesar. This essay includes an instructive preface by Notre Dame political philosopher Patrick J. Deneen, who situates Manent’s arguments in the American context and further elucidates the paradoxes of the republic.
Minor Indignities, a debut novel by Trevor Cribben Merrill. John Wilson called it “an extraordinarily accomplished first novel,” and Patrick Deneen wrote that Merrill “has written the best kind of novel, one that entertains without numbing and instructs without preaching." New Polity noted that “Merrill’s refreshingly honest tone is where the novel really shines, both as a work of art, and as an understated apologia. Profound lessons and cultural critique are gently peppered into a narrative that remains down-to-earth, unafraid to explore the levities, temptations and complexities of adolescence.”
Boundaries of Eden, the much-anticipated second novel by Glenn Arbery. William Bedford Clark wrote that this “stand alone” sequel to Bearings and Distances “offers an unflinching assessment of the postmodern present and frank acknowledgement of our shared, often malignant past.”
If Nobody Calls, I’m Not Home (an epistolary novel) and The Next Time We Saw Paris (a book of poems) by the prolific Samuel Hazo. The New York Times Book Review wrote that Hazo has "a gift for phrase-making and for incisive moral judgments," and the Pulitzer-prize winning poet Richard Wilbur said that "each of Hazo's poems is a spare sparkling flow of good talk . . . one relishes his jauntiness, his ever-varied grammatical attack and the witty surplus of his phrasing."
Jazz & Other Stories, short fiction and a novella by Dena Hunt. Joseph Pearce describes the stories as being “animated by the Christ-haunted spirit of Miss Hunt's native South. This is first-rate fiction from a storyteller who plumbs the depths of the human condition. Simply splendid.”
The Evening Sky, Charles Hughes’ second book of poems. Robert B. Shaw sees Hughes' new collection as showing "a sensitivity both to things of this world and things of the spirit, a compassionate shrewdness," and Stephen Gibson, winner of the Miller Williams Poetry Prize, says "this knockout collection is one to return to again and again—here, individual ambition and personal failure intersect with the literary and historical: as Lear misunderstands love for what it isn’t, so a father fails family in not understanding self.”
“Dense Poems & Socratic Light”: The Poetry of John Martin Finlay (1941–1991) and "With Constant Light”: The Collected Essays and Reviews, with Selections from the Diaries, Letters, and Other Prose of John Martin Finlay (1941–1991). Finlay, one of the lesser-known luminaries of the Catholic literary tradition, awaits rediscovery by many—all thanks to many years of meticulous labors undertaken by David Middleton, John P. Doucet, and Angela Cybulski, as well as full support from the Finlay Estate.
We hosted Katy Carl for our first annual Wiseblood Writing Residency (-without-a-Residence). Our residency offers authors of significant promise a stipend, a small library of paradigmatic novels and books on the art and craft of fiction, two weeks’ room and board, and intensive editorial and craft advice, as well as the prospect of a publishing contract. On account of Covid Katy joined us from a distance, but our time together generated many gains—not least a fully-realized draft of As Earth Without Water, Carl’s first novel, due out from Wiseblood in 2021. Katy found the Residency “an innovative, sui generis opportunity for writers. No other workshop that I am aware of integrates meticulous feedback, practical support, and intellectual and spiritual community in quite the same way.” It was pure joy to work with her!
We also selected Sally Thomas as our 2021 Writer-in-Residence. Thomas is the author of a poetry collection, Motherland, a finalist for the 2018 Able Muse Book Award and published by Able Muse Press in 2020. She will shape her novel Works of Mercy (working title), which follows a woman who "was in many ways a more contented widow than I had been a wife" as she cleans the rectory "for the good of my soul" and travels through the tangled backroads of her mind, sorting out how it is that she got there. The Wiseblood editors found in Thomas's novel a "spare, ruminative style that somehow admits the lyrical without blushing and arrives at keen psychological insight through understatement or indirection." Read more about the Residency HERE.
Although the entirety of our 2021 publications calendar is not determined, I am happy to announce a number of forthcoming Wiseblood Books: Exegesis of Common Places, by Léon Bloy. This translation by Louis Cancelmi brings Bloy’s singular work to English readers for the first time; Padre Raimundo’s Army, short stories by Arthur Powers; Earth and Water, Katy Carl’s debut novel; The Disciple, by Paul Bourget (an out-of-print, lesser-known novel of the Catholic literary tradition). We are also striving to secure reprint rights for: Christ and Apollo: The Dimensions of the Literary Imagination, by William F. Lynch, S.J.; The Demons, by Heimito von Doderer (with a new introduction by Martin Mosebach); and several novels by Alice Thomas Ellis.
After several years of steady but quieter work, Wiseblood has gained considerable momentum; I am immensely proud (and therefore need to confess committing a deadly sin?) of the books we’ve brought out this past year. I am wholeheartedly devoted to seeing that these yields continue. Thanks to the unprecedented liberality of several major donors, I have reduced my academic load at Belmont Abbey College, where I remain Assistant Director of the Honors College, in order to increase my editorial, supervisory, and promotional work with Wiseblood Books. Our editorial team is stronger than ever, thanks especially to the all-around assistance of our Managing Editor Louis Maltese, as well as the excellent copyedits of Mary Lang and Kate Weaver. We are lean but able—and efficient! As ever, we rely on your monetary support, which underwrites our intransient commitment to publishing new books in the Catholic literary tradition. Please consider making a tax-deductible Donation of Constantine, or offering even a Widow’s Mite, HERE.
Thank you for reading, and for all you do to help us forge a new idiom for writers riddled by the Incarnation.
With great gratitude,
Joshua Hren, Ph.D.
Founder and Editor of Wiseblood Books