"In my religion all believers would stop work at sundown and have a drink together." ~ Cyril Connolly
(Cyril Connolly by Richard Avedon.)
Cyril Connolly was an English writer and critic (1903-1974) -- but before you dismiss him as being a fuddy-duddy, let me tell you: He was one of us.
Ernest Hemingway said about The Unquiet Grave, Connolly's book of personal reflections, "No matter how many readers it will ever have, it will never have enough." Writer William Boyd described it as being a lesson in the art of living.
Cyril is our kind of guy. I speak of him in the literary present because as long as we think about him, he still lives. His one-liners kill me. It's hard to read more than a page or two of The Unquiet Grave without shouting to yourself, "OMG yes."
“Tea, coffee, alcohol stimulate. So do heights, wet days, south-west gales, hotel bedrooms in Paris and windows overlooking harbors.”
He's prone to excess.
"Both my happiness and my unhappiness I owe to the love of pleasure."
He likes October as much we do.
"I live more in the present in the autumn than in any other season."
He's trying to figure out how to live meaningfully.
“The lives of most human beings are worthless except in so far as they contribute to the enrichment and emancipation of the human spirit.”
He appreciates style.
“For an angora pullover, for a red scarf, for a beret and some brown shoes, I am bleeding to death."
When he gets depressed, he comes up with lists of things that make him feel better.
"Enemies of angst: the morning awakening of a house, dogs being let out, the smell of breakfast, Sunday papers, taps running."
He loves food. Maybe too much.
"Imprisoned in every fat man a thin one is wildly struggling to be let out."(Yep, he's the one who wrote that.)
And he lives with a passion and fervor for life that will inspire you to do the same. As William Boyd put it, "No matter what he writes about, you respond, instinctively: "How true, that's exactly where I want to live and how I want to live as well."
Start with "The Unquiet Grave."
If you like it (and I think you will), it could be the start of a beautiful new relationship.
It has been for me.
P.S. All quotes from The Unquiet Grave.