So with the only recommendation I actually received through this...blog...I can now say that the challenge has officially been met. And a good closer it was, too. Gardner's Grendel is a creature which defies easy categorization as a monster, but also doesn't fall for the easy trappings of "the cruelest monster of all is MAN!" type faux-Twilight Zoney bullshit. Instead, and like Mishima's Golden Pavilion, its one which embraces paradox and stares deep at the swirling nothingness at its center. Gardner also writes, paradoxically, in two ways I like to read--both in colloquial, sometimes crass language, and in worrisome reflections on the "object-ness" of the world (including one very Sartre-ian moment in which all things in the world reveal themselves to Grendel as "not-my-mother"). The focus on mortality, morality, choice and creation are all unflinching without the prose falling into haughty pedantry, or taking itself too too seriously. So, all things considered, a very fine book! Thanks, Feshbachs, for your communal work in getting this to me.
So the 50 is done! I haven't really thought about what to do with this...thing now, since this more or less nihilates the use of this...thing. But Max suggested going for 52 so that it would be a book a week, and in the last dwindling days of the year that's not impossible. So I'm going to keep it running until New Year and then decide what to do, I guess.
Meanwhile: Merry Christmas, etc!