Monday, April 28, 2008

Amphigory by Edward Gorey

Saturday to take my mind off the dismal performance of the Denver Nuggets, I curled up on the couch with my calico and read Amphigory by Edward Gorey, as one does after watching the NBA playoffs. In reading the 15 tales in Amphigory, I thought they were quite poetic, in a Monty Python sort of way.

I struggle to describe Edwards Gorey’s stories and basically can only sum it up with two phrases, ”hmmm, wonder where this is going,” and ”I did not see that coming.”

Some call his ironic and offbeat humorous stories literary nonsense, but I just call it pure genius. A is for apple and B is for Bear, oh, I don’t think so as you will find in The Gashlycrumb Tinies, "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs, B is for Bail assaulted by bears.” His illustrations add so much depth to the stories, or should I say darkness in that charming and witty macabre way.

As I writer, I particularly loved this passage in The Unstrung Harp:

“Mr. Earbrass has been rashly skimming through the early chapters, which he has not looked at for months, and now sees TUH (The Unstrung Harp) for what it is. Dreadful, dreadful, DREADFUL. He must be mad to go on enduring the unexquisite agony of writing when it all turns out drivel. Mad. Why didn’t he become a spy? How does one become one? He will burn the MS. Why is there no fire? Why aren’t there the makings for one? How did he get in the unused room on the third floor?"

If you are a fan of British humor than I believe you will quite enjoy the works of Edward Gorey, despite the fact he was born in Chicago and never visited Britain. Other stories in Amphigory include: 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 Insect God, The West Wind, The Wuggly Ump, The Sinking Spell, The Remembered Visit.

In honor of the last week of National Poetry Month, I will leave you with this verse from The Listing Attic:

A dreary young bank clerk name Fennis
Wished to foster an aura of menace;
To make people afraid
He wore gloves of grey suede
And white footgear intended for tennis.

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