Alms for Oblivion: I review a new biography of Edward Gorey

Alms for Oblivion: I review a new biography of Edward Gorey January 20, 2019

at the University Bookman:

Many years ago I saw an obituary notice in the local gay newspaper. Above a desolate, elegantly hand-drawn landscape ran the motto: “Last night it did not seem as if today it would be raining.” And then the dates of a loved one’s birth and death.

The picture and the words were from Edward Gorey’s little book, The Sopping Thursday. Gorey is famous now as a master of the macabre, with an oeuvre full of menacing gigantic curtain tassels, “neglected murderesses,” insect gods demanding human sacrifice, and children dying in ridiculous ways. (“N is for Neville, who died of ennui.”) He modeled his drawing style on engravings, and took both form and content from “obsolete genres”: “the Puritan primer, the Dickensian tearjerker, the silent-movie melodrama.” But Gorey was also astonishingly skilled at finding poignancy, lostness, in the most trivial moments of life. He had a fine sense of absurdity, but his nonsense was always shadowed by a feeling of real loss.

Spooky house, which is very much not a Gorey drawing, via PxHere

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