Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Reader's Diary #125- Edward Gorey: Amphigorey (FINISHED)
After reading the second half of this collection, I can understand a little better the cult following of Gorey.
It is in this section you find the (in)famous "Gashlycrumb Tinies". For those unfamiliar with it, it's an alphabet book (you know, "'A' is for..." etc) with a twisted take. Basically each letter stands for a different child's name and their untimely demise, "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs" and so on. Dark, yes. But comical in a deranged way. It's not overly evil, the cartoonishness and silly rhymes never allows the reader (well, this reader anyway) to lose sight of the fact that it is all in jest. Something about his slightly pretentious, dated word choice, makes it all seem even sillier. My favourite is "N is Neville who died of ennui".
Another quality of Gorey's style that I enjoy, is his tendency to leave a lot up to the imagination. Some might say it's a lazy or even easy approach, but Gorey makes it part of the fun. In "The Curious Sofa" for instance, the final panel shows just a corner of the sofa with the caption, "When Alice saw what was about to happen, she began to scream uncontrollably..." The story that led up to it, and the ambiguous ending, provoke the reader into any number of vile possibilities of what the sofa actually does, but Gorey cleverly leaves it there. He really pushes the mysterious angle to its extreme in "The West Wing," a wordless story with pictures of rooms presumably in the west wing of some mansion. In almost every panel, the reader is left with a question, "Why are there three shoes on the floor?" "Why is one room filled with water?" "Who is that looking in the window?" and so on. The imagination goes into overload. Finally, I delighted in "The Sinking Spell" in which a mysterious something falls slowly from the sky and gradually makes its way through a roof, several floors, into the basement and out of sight. It is never shown and the reader is never told what it is. There's a Twilight Zonish air about the story that I absolutely loved.