#HumpDayReviews, pre-3DNC edition: The Unstrung Harp by Edward Gorey

If you’ve never read anything by Edward Gorey, let me be the first to tell you that you’ve been wasting your life most miserably.

Then, allow me to recommend the first Edward Gorey book you ought to read in order to rectify this situation: The Unstrung Harp, Or Mr Earbrass Writes A Novel.

In honor of the fact that I’m about to write yet another 3 Day Novel this weekend, I decided to do what every novelist prepping for such a journey ought to do: read a great book about writing a novel.

Edward Gorey takes the whole process quite seriously – if by seriously you mean ludicrously – and if you’re sure to spend at least an hour pondering this book, asking yourself important questions such as:

  1. What on earth is the Poddington “Te Deum”?
  2. Why does Mr. Earbrass only write novels once every other year?
  3. What other potential novel titles, aside from The Unstrung Harp, has he captured in his little green notebook?
  4. Is there any significance to the fact that he prefers a green notebook to a black one?
  5. Where can I get a bathtub like this?


If you’ve been involved in publishing for long, you’re also sure to get a kick out of Mr. Earbrass’s post-writing outings, including a literary dinner at Le Trottoir Imbécile, where “the talk deals with disappointing sales, inadequate publicity, worse than inadequate royalties, idiotic or criminal reviews, others’ declining talent, and the unspeakable horror of the literary life.”

In short, if you’re feeling bummed out by any part of the writing process, go grab yourself a copy of The Unstrung Harp and you’re sure to feel better. Or maybe be inspired to head to the Continent for a few weeks…

Finally, I’ve also been reading a biography of Shel Silverstein called A Boy Named Shel, which leads me to pose the following question:

Who would win in a battle of the Chicago-born weirdos: Edward Gorey or Shel Silverstein?

Your answers, please!