The Unstrung Harp by Edward Gorey
Hardcover format. I neglected to read this for many years, and when I recently decided to give it a go, I found it to be yet another delightful Gorey take on humanity -- this time our absurd struggle with creativity, which often confounds us with no apparent reason at all. Wonderful! Definitely recommended.
On November 18th of alternate years Mr Earbrass begins writing 'his new novel.' Weeks ago he chose its title at random from a list of them he keeps in a little green note-book. It being tea-time of the 17th, he is alarmed not to have thought of a plot to which The Unstrung Harp might apply, but his mind will keep reverting to the last biscuit on the plate." So begins what the Times Literary Supplement called "a small masterpiece."
The Unstrung Harp is a look at the literary life and its "attendant woes: isolation, writer's block, professional jealousy, and plain boredom."
But, as with all of Edward Gorey's books, The Unstrung Harp is also about life in general, with its anguish, turnips, conjunctions, illness, defeat, string, parties, no parties, urns, desuetude, disaffection, claws, loss, trebizond, napkins, shame, stones, distance, fever, antipodes, mush, glaciers, incoherence, labels, miasma, amputation, tides, deceit, mourning, elsewards. You get the point.
Finally, The Unstrung Harp is about Edward Gorey the writer, about Edward Gorey writing The Unstrung Harp. It's a cracked mirror of a book, and it's dedicated to RDP or Real Dear Person.