Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Book Review: The Unstrung Harp; or, Mr Earbrass Writes a Novel

The Unstrung HarpThe Unstrung Harp; or, Mr Earbrass Writes a Novel by Edward Gorey

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Short Story

Synopsis: Mr Earbrass is a famous writer and this is the story of the writing process for his latest novel: The Unstrung Harp.

My Thoughts: This is a small book that my dad gave me last night. It was supposed to be in my stocking but only arrived yesterday *glares at Royal Fail*. But in a way its arrival was most serendipitous. Mr Earbrass has a difficult time writing his novel. His characters really do not do what he expects them to. And they also pop out of nowhere on occasion. He also feels a certain melancholy when the book is over, not to mention the dread of editing.

Although it has been a very long time since I wrote any work of fiction I very much recognise the frustrations and pitfalls of a writer.  Today I especially found the following passage very apt:

The next day Mr Earbrass is conscious but very little more. He wanders through the house, leaving doors open and empty tea-cups on the floor. From time to time the thought occurs to him that he really ought to go and dress, and he gets up several minutes later, only to sit down again in the first chair he comes to. The better part of a week will have elapsed before he has recovered enough to do anything more helpful. 

I feel much like Mr Earbrass at the minute. Today I have gotten very little of real substance done. Or at least it feel that way. Had I not had things that really had to get done I doubt I would have done anything at all.

Each spread has a short text like the one above and a black and white drawing of Mr Earbrass doing something to do whit the text. It took next to no time to read but I think this is a book I will be looking at again and again. It touched something in me in a very strange way. I can’t explain it.

My dad gave me this book because I write. Mostly academic papers, but occasionally I dabble in fiction writing. The process that Mr Earbrass went through was one that was very familiar to me. At least up to the point where the book gets published, although there were scenes afterwards that were also familiar to me (the slight disconnect one feels to society at large especially others who write). I highly recommend this book.


Copyright ©2011 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Aarti said...

This sounds like a really cute little story that actually manages to resonate very well with readers who have experienced the same thing. I also love the title and cover :-)

Nymeth said...

*glare along with you* (I´ve been having trouble as well). But what a thoughtful and appropriate gift!

Biblibio said...

I like that the writing style is very present and up-close. It almost feels like the narration is telling what will happen as well as what's happening! Quite nice.