Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kelly's Book 11: Ascending Peculiarity

Dear Jenny,

I'm still working on The Book of Vice, but I thought it would be a good idea to pick November's book so that I've committed to it just as soon as I am done. I have selected this book, Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey, based solely on the fact that is is the shortest book I have remaining.

(I picked up Double Fold and then noticed that it has approximately 3,346 end notes in it. I may have to purchase the Kindle version to save myself from constantly flipping to the back of the book! [Oh, the irony for a book with the subtitle "Libraries and the assault on paper."])

I have been a fan of Edward Gorey since I was a kid, when my father introduced me to his work. I vividly remember reading and re-reading Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (written by T.S. Eliot, illustrated by Gorey) as well as a fantastic pop-up book called The Dwindling Party, which goes for around $100 now on Amazon, if you want it in good condition (and much more for mint!) I've never been able to bring myself to shell out the dough for a copy, but it excites me to see it there again, so I'm sure I will break down one day.

In college, a poster depicting The Gashlycrumb Tinies was a fixture in many a dorm room, including mine. (I just rifled through my old photos to see if I could find one from that time period that included the poster, but alas, I did not. [I did, however, find some hilarious photos of us -- we were so young!])  My favorite was always "N is for Neville who died of ennui." Amazing -- I could have a fresh copy of that poster for only $3 now.

Over the years, I have amassed quite a few of Gorey's books -- he was quite prolific (according to my old pal Wikipedia,  he created "over 100 books") -- but I know very little about the man himself (just learned from that entry that he was born in Chicago!) This book is a compendium of interviews with Gorey between the years 1973-1999.

I also have the book The Strange Case of Edward Gorey (a biography, written by a close friend) languishing here on my shelf. Perhaps this month would be a good time to read that as well and make it a Gorey-iffic month. It's a slim volume -- we'll see. I guess I should have done this in October, but November is still a rather spoooky month, now that the sun sets at 4:30 every night (Have I mentioned lately I hate the time change? If not... I do.)

I would love to go visit the Edward Gorey house. I've never been to Massachusetts -- have you? Care to join me on a trip next year? ;)



  1. K,

    I remember you loved Gorey, although you always knew so much more about him. I do remember the ennui line---it's a funny thing to die of, that's for sure!

    Is this more of an autobiography, then? I'll be curious to hear about the format? Are there many of his illustrations?

    Maybe a field trip could be in our future one summer! I love it. Kelly and Jenny roadtrip to the homes of famous authors. Hah.


  2. It's funny, because I wrestled with whether or not to call it a "biography" yesterday night when I posted this... I even looked up the definition and bounced it off of Bill. So far, it looks to be simply a collection of interviews with Gorey over the course of 26 years (starting with the year we were born! :) ) Does that qualify as a "biography?" I don't... think... so?

    I think the other one that I have (The Strange Case of Edward Gorey is going to be more biographical. But I'll keep you posted once I get there.

    Meanwhile, still getting through The Book of Vice. It's a quick read, but... there's a lot to think about. Most of it is not good.

    Got a couple of flights this weekend, so I should be able to finish BoV and start on Gorey. Unless, of course, I just decide to plug in and finish The Marriage Plot. Decisions, decisions!

  3. Well now I am curious. I assumed that the subtitle, Gorey on Gorey meant it was a autobiography, but it also makes sense that it would be a series of interviews with him.

    I'm always really interested in how artists came to be who they are, why they are attracted to a certain medium, etc. However, I also struggle with biography. I enjoy non-fiction when it's well-written and snappy, and unfortunately, so many biographies are slow-paced and plodding. I never quite make it through them.

    I almost wouldn't care about the subject IF I knew that it was well-written and interesting.