As an illustration student, I rather feel I've come across the Holy Grail in discovering Mr. Gorey, and cannot believe that I hadn't been introduced to his work earlier. I mean, on an illustration course you'd think he'd be required reading, but I'm fairly sure no one ever mentioned him. Of course, I could just have not been paying attention. Anyway. I stumbled across this little book a while ago, and fell in love. Since then I've actually regained some enthusiasm for my course, which I was halfway to dropping out of; he's truly a genius and an inspiration. Gush. He's also a weird anomaly; my first assumption was that he was English, and long dead; but no, he was American, never visited Britain, and he was working as late as the nineties. I also imagines him as a dark, isolated intellectual, but he was actually a jolly, white bearded, camp-as-hell lover of trash television. The reasons for my mistaken impressions will become clear the moment you open the book- his style is deliberately evocative of the dark, densely cross-hatched etchings of Victorian times, as seen in the books of Charles Dickens, and his writing is old-fashioned and mannered to fit: ' Now and then it would vanish for hours from the scene, But alas, be discovered inside a tureen'. It is all written in verse, and tells the simple but endlessly amusing story of a weird creature imposing himself on a wealthy family, all of whom are rather stiff and stern looking, and just hanging around doing irritating things. It is such a convincing period piece that I never would have doubted my initial thoughts, were it not for the creature's white canvas trainers!
Like all his work, it's pretty sinister, but unlike, say, the Gashlycrumb Tinies, an alphabet of dead children, it's never macabre. I personally like his darker, more violent stuff, but I've shown it to some people and they've looked at me like I was a deranged sicko, but there's nothing to object to with this book, it's just a wonderful piece of art.