The Unquiet Grave

Morning reading: The Unquiet Grave by Palinurus (aka Cyril Connolly). A little treasure chest by a thoughtful, neurotic slacker, reader, and writer, a sort of miscellany as he muses on the problems of being a person of great discernment who has failed to write a masterpiece. My kind of guy! Moody longing, regrets, dreams, drama, probably some sort of opium ingestion going on as well. This is a great book to dip into to get yourself going poetically, like Coleridge’s Anima Poetae or Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy.

The more books we read, the sooner we perceive that the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence. Obvious though this should be, how few writers will admit it, or having made the admission, will be prepared to lay aside the piece of iridescent mediocrity on which they have embarked!

I don’t really agree with this – obviously we can write for a million reasons, and readers don’t want to encounter nothing but masterpieces! – but I do understand the fierce longing to write something amazing.

“Others merely live, I vegetate.” Vegetating, contemplating, spacing out, are all very useful for creativity! Not exactly thinking – not exactly meditating. An interior liminal space.

Palinurus was Aeneas’s navigator, who the gods force to fall asleep at the wheel & fall overboard as a sort of sacrifice.

I found this book on a free bookshelf in Cole Valley – the one outside Cole Valley Tavern. What a gem!

book cover of unquiet grave