Wednesday, March 15, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 004: The Gashlycrumb Tinies”

[Originally posted 28 Feb. 2017. ---RFY]

A decade or two ago (I’m bad with time), I ran across the name “Edward Gorey” while reading a comic book by Jay Stephens. Stephens had cited Gorey as a massive influence, along with other names, like Maurice Sendak who was my favorite-favorite, so I had to check the dude out. What I discovered was genius.

Edward Gorey – The Gashlycrumb Tinies (1963/1991)

Gorey writes and draws strange, quirky, often very creepy, very unsettling little books, which can easily be mistaken for childrens’ literature, if one isn’t careful. They LOOK almost cute, at first glance, but do pay attention to the WORDS before giving a book like this to little Sally or Billy. Here are the first two lines of this particular ABC book:

“A is for Amy who fell down the stairs. / B is for Basil assaulted by bears.”

That’s right, it’s an ABC book of different ways that children can die, and with Gorey’s beautiful, detailed, sweet, and very dark art style, some of the depictions get quite gruesome. I love this dark, chilling, and freaky book, primarily for the art, and it was definitely a gateway into a new, exciting world. Gorey became an obsession for me (although being POOR, I couldn’t afford to obsess much), and I quickly bought a book of his interviews, two biographies, and several collections of his works (which I will reread and post as RDBs soon enough.) If you haven’t read Gorey, but have a love of the eerie and macabre, then RUN, right now, to a book store and get busy. I guarantee he will not disappoint.

—Richard F. Yates

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