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The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy Hardcover – Dec 1997

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Hardcover, Dec 1997
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (Dec. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688156819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688156817
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.6 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 744,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

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This unassuming hardcover in black buckram with a dark lavender title plate is the door into a world of twisted pleasures. Filmmaker Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas) tells 23 winsomely macabre stories about boys and girls who don't fit in. Their bodies are misshapen, their habits are odd and their parents are appalled by them. But they do try hard to be human, like poor unwanted Mummy Boy, who's "a bundle of gauze": he goes for a walk in the park with his mummy dog. Some kids who are having "a birthday party for a Mexican girl" mistakenly take Mummy Boy for a piñata: "They took a baseball bat and whacked open his head. Mummy Boy fell to the ground; he finally was dead. Inside of his head were no candy or prizes, just a few stray beetles of various sizes." For all its simple humour, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories is a peculiarly disturbing book about the violence that children suffer. It is illustrated in pen and ink, watercolours, and crayon. The themes and imagery are at a young-adult to adult level.


'Burton's creepy stories conjure up the fantastical, even the slightly demented.' -- Entertainment Weekly --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Stick Boy liked Match Girl, he liked her a lot. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By S J Hamilton on 9 Jan. 2004
Format: Hardcover
This collection of poems are essentially short stories about misunderstood children, outcast from society and mentally tortured by their abnormalities. Such characters include “The Boy with Nails in His Eyes”, “The Pin Cushion Queen” and “Jimmy, the Hideous Penguin Boy”. Each short story portrays the loneliness and sadness, which consume these characters as they struggle to find compassion, love and acceptance in their lives.
Each story is simply, yet beautifully illustrated by Burton who designs the sets, costumes and mise-en-scene for his films in the same intricate manner. The illustrations are almost childish but provoke a feeling of deep sorrow in the reader. Each illustration is roughly coloured with faint watercolours enhancing the fragility and innocence of youth in these individuals. . In contrast to the saddening drawings, the poems are surprisingly funny in a twisted, typically Burton-esque way. The stories are a complex combination of humour and tragedy, disguising deep and serious subtexts with a light hearted mask.
Although this book has the appearance of an illustrated storybook for children, the macabre subjects of the stories and satirical humour can only be fully appreciated by adults. But it is the childlike and innocent nature of the book which makes it such an unusually enchanting and cherished read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Craobh Rua VINE VOICE on 21 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
"The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories" is a collection of 23 poems written and superbly illustrated by Tim Burton - the director of, amongst other things - "Sleepy Hollow", "Beetlejuice" and "The Corpse Bride". It features a number of characters such as Oyster Boy (obviously, I guess), The Girl With Many Eyes, Stain Boy and Anchor Baby. For the most part, the poems are very short - many are only a few lines long, while "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy" is pretty much the longest in the collection. There are a few others - like "Robot Boy", "Anchor Baby" and (my favourite) "Mummy Boy" - that make it past a couple of pages.

There's a pretty gruesome thread running though the book, plenty of strangeness and a smattering of sad and / or lonely characters. While I wouldn't describe it as scary, I wouldn't neceaasrily recommend reading it while eating cheese just before going to bed ! Fans of Burtom's films - especially "The Nightmare Before Christmas" - should enjoy this.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "tigertippytoes" on 26 Jan. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Tim Burton's book was a gift this christmas, and although I wouldn't have picked this myself I must say I am incredibly impressed with this little book! Tim Burton may be known for his original/twisted approach to his film-making, and his book is no exception. The short, illustrated collection of poems are appealing on so many levels. Essentially about the cruelty of other children and your own parents, the drawings are heart wrenching and very emotional, despite it's slight stance. In fact the more you read this book, the more you can find something to stir up memories of an adolesent era that was both painful and unjust, and yet appreciate and savour the survival into adulthood. Then, as Mr Burton likes to remind you, invariably you become a parent and start the whole cycle of love/desire/betrayal all over again. Enlightening and satisfying, I recommend this book to anyone who has been through their teenage years, or is currently suffering them!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Nov. 2000
Format: Hardcover
My first experience of Tim Burton was when I saw the first Batman andI loved the style of his work.After that I saw The Nightmare Before christmas and it blew me away!! I have recently purchased oyster boy & other stories and thought it was Tim Burton in a book . He teases us with such works and your always hungry for more with his eerie endings .The characters are just sad looking misfits and are troubled like so many of us in life,but their troubles are far from normal and you just have to grin at their misery.His drawings are just so unique! oyster boy and other stories brings out the child in me makes me want to write my own tragedies long and short!All I have to say is MORE PLEASE TIM BURTON.!!!!!!!!!!!!! .
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Arbie on 25 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
I really cannot be unbiased about this work, because it is by one of my great influences, Tim Burton. I absolutely love his best work - the dark fairy tales, such as 'Beetlejuice' and 'Sleepy Hollow' - especially my favourite animated movie of all time (alongside Aladdin, that is), 'Nightmare Before Christmas'.
I bought this book for that name. The content is exactly what I wished for - an eclectic group of disfunctional gothic characters, that while creepy, are sincerely endearing. The stories of these doomed children are of misfortune, each due to a unique hamartia, a fundamental fault (for example, Stain Boy, whose disadvantage is pretty self-explanatory - I should add that he is now the titular character in a series of animated shorts on the website AtomFilms). Each tragic tale is written in the form of rhyming verse, and each poem paints a truly disturbing vignette of a character that you will either deeply empathise with, or find vehemently repulsive (it is an odd combination that Burton pulls of effortlessly). Many might consider the work allegorical, highlighting the burden of idiosyncratic flaws that ail the outsiders of human society - others will just relish the sinister humour, sympathetic care and fervent artistry of the writing and illustrations.
The verse is well-crafted, and the watercolour paintings of the poor ailed children are evocative and deliciously haunting. I'd recommend this to any Burton fan, both adults, and children that like a bit of light-hearted horror (as I did as a child, loving 'Nightmare Before Christmas' so much in my early years). I reluctantly drop one point due to the fact that its very short, and probably not something for every mood. Also, people who don't share a delight for Burton's vision of the gloomy fairy tale should probably give this a miss. For the rest of us, this is a highly enjoyable read that will please on many levels.
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