Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Strange Case of Edward Gorey, Alexander Theroux

When he was not petting a cat, dramatic gestures, along with heavy sighs or moans, almost always accompanied his highly various conversation.

It would be impossible to choose the one fact I most appreciate learning about Edward Gorey. When tired or upset, he "tended to end conversations, as such, with a hard laugh, a sweeping gesture, a put-down, or all three at the same time." He taped Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He became interested in puppeteering by reading Seneca's plays. He loved puzzles, commercials, the names of places. It is telling that there is but one telegrammatic blurb on the back of this book:
"Just read a few weeks ago your book on Gorey and enjoyed it very much." - Cormac McCarthy, April, 2010

Gorey collected everything. Sad irons. Signs. Dolls. Telephone pole insulators. Masks. Puppets. The statue of an elephant. Big and little seashells. Eggs. Cape Cod candles. Paintings. Odd ashtrays. CDs.

These assemblages in the book, the catalog of preferences, the turns of phrase, the many books referenced, build to as complete a portrait strangers could ever hope to have of such a private and particular man. It's a sideways biography, full of amusing and respectful insight. Theroux's book is a gift and comes highly recommended.

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