Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I wasn't sure what to do, or whether I was hungry or thirsty, sad or happy. I was tired from walking the streets of Lisbon on a warm, unpleasantly sunny day, for I had lost my hat in the train from Sintra and the fragile skin on my bare skull was broiling steadily. The crowd in the Museu de Cerveja looked to be straight off that floating city in port. I looked at the empty chairs in the place next door, older, hardly gentrified yet. Perfectly indicative of the struggle of Portugal to move slowly forward. So I finally settled on a table and chair that were the least unattractive to me, except that the table was unsteady after all, and I looked down at the restaurant menu, by the corner of the square. I turned the meagre menu (fish, more fish, fish) this way and that, but the food seemed to offer nothing but nausea and a repulsive end-product. I glanced at a sign on the wall. It was a line drawing of a thin-faced man with a moustache and those round glasses of old Europeans, and below this paltry representation were a few lines of self-deprecrating poetry. How he must feel on the wall. Like a fly, only unable to crawl, or indeed, to fly. Fernando Pessoa.

I opened my Kindle in a mood of resignation, for although I was unsatisfied with everything, I also felt the need to make a gesture, hopefully one that would take me away from my gloomy thoughts. Let me run my retinae over this array of pixels. Let someone else put the vibrations in my brain. I tossed the menu aside made the waiter (who had been hovering, and then had eventually moved away after observing my sour uncertainty and inability to commit) bring me a maio de liete and a quejada de villa francecso de campo, for that perfect cake would ruin my mood even further when I considered that it would not only not be fresh (flown in from the Azores who knows when) but my last one ever.

I read several pages of my book...

I had forgotten - it was uncanny, yet coincidences rarely excites me. I was reading The Book of Disquiet at that time. Short pieces, almost epigrams, paragraphs, a few pages. Everyone one of them ironic, bitter and dissatisfied, yet it was amazing - uplifting at the same time. It is so sad and negative, it is immensely enjoyable. The phrases are poems, not a cliche touches the paper for him.

And so my poor (transcribed above) blackness of the world lifted from my shoulders and a much BETTER blackness of the world settled instead. A black joy. Pessoa's perennial mood. I was elated at his contrariness and the refusal to enjoy life in evidence. Fernando Pessoa told me exactly and with unparalleled clarity how I felt, at that exact time. The word for my mood was "disquiet".

In short, with The Book Of Disquiet is perfect for those times when you are sitting in the restaurant where Pessoa himself used to sit and write (as he got drunk), and you feel happy to be feeling grumpy, which is 90% of the time for me, so I'm rating it 5 stars!

And I gave the waiter a 50c tip for his surly service!


Goodreads Review. No-one has liked it yet. I am expecting a lot of crap to be brought down on me.


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