Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review: Amphigorey by Edward Gorey

Amphigorey by Edward Gorey

Series: Amphigorey, #1
Release Date: January 28th 1980
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
: 220

Genre: Adult - Poetry, Art
Buy it: Amazon | The Book Depository
Add it: Goodreads

The title of this deliciously creepy collection of Gorey's work stems from the word amphigory, meaning a nonsense verse or composition. As always, Gorey's painstakingly cross-hatched pen and ink drawings are perfectly suited to his oddball verse and prose. The first book of 15, "The Unstrung Harp," describes the writing process of novelist Mr. Clavius Frederick Earbrass: "He must be mad to go on enduring the unexquisite agony of writing when it all turns out drivel." In "The Listing Attic," you'll find a set of quirky limericks such as "A certain young man, it was noted, / Went about in the heat thickly coated; / He said, 'You may scoff, / But I shan't take it off; / Underneath I am horribly bloated.' "

Many of Gorey's tales involve untimely deaths and dreadful mishaps, but much like tragic Irish ballads with their perky rhythms and melodies, they come off as strangely lighthearted. "The Gashlycrumb Tinies," for example, begins like this: "A is for AMY who fell down the stairs, B is for BASIL assaulted by bears," and so on. An eccentric, funny book for either the uninitiated or diehard Gorey fans.

Contains: The Unstrung Harp, The Listing Attic, The Doubtful Guest, The Object Lesson, The Bug Book, The Fatal Lozenge, The Hapless Child, The Curious Sofa, The Willowdale Handcar, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Insect God, The West Wing, The Wuggly Ump, The Sinking Spell, and The Remembered Visit.

I honestly don’t know what to say about this book. It was so “out there”. I liked parts of it but since there were so many stories I am going to break them up and talk about certain ones. It was definitely interesting.

First I will talk about the book as a whole thought. There is a lot of death a lot of it is child death. If you don’t like reading about that then you probably won’t like this book. This is a book of fifteen different books, with lots of different stories. All but two of them are in black and white and they are all pretty much pencil type sketches. I wasn’t really the biggest fan of the illustrations and there were only a few stories that I actually liked.

The Doubtful Guest – This is one of my favorite stories of the book. It was actually pretty funny when you realized what the story was about. I liked the way the “guest” was drawn. It sort of made the story funnier. This is a story about a guest that shows up at a house and acts just like a child. It takes things it likes and throws them in the pond to “protect” them. It rips pages out of books and breaks things. It has been there for 17 years and shows no plans of leaving.

The Listing Attic – This is a group of small random poems with a graphic to go along with each one. Some of them were rather disturbing.

The Bug Book and The Wuggly Ump – These were the only two books that were colored. The Bug Book was a pretty good story about a group of ants that have to protect themselves from a bully bug. The Wuggly Ump is pretty much a song about a weird creature that eats children.

The Hapless Child – This story was really sad! It was about a young girl whose father is in the military and is sent off to Africa and her mother passes away while he is gone. She is told the father has been killed in war and is sent off to an orphanage. She escapes the orphanage and is sold to a drunken man. That is all I will say about it but the it doesn’t end well for the poor little girl.

The Curious Sofa – Porn on paper… That is all I have to say about that one.
The Gashlycrumb Tinies – This is an alphabet story (i.e. A is for… B is for… C is for…) The thing that makes this one different is every letter is a different way that a child has died. I sort of liked this one but I’m not sure why. It’s pretty disturbing.
Those are all the ones that I thought worthy of talking about. There are a lot of stories in this book and if you like things that are on the darker side then you might really enjoy this book. I’m not sure it was quite for me though. I am not sure if I will be reading the next set of stories.

My Rating:

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