Series: Amphigorey #1
Published by Perigee Trade on January 28, 1980
The title of this deliciously creepy collection of Gorey's work stems from the word amphigory, meaning a nonsense verse or composition. As always, Gorey's painstakingly cross-hatched pen and ink drawings are perfectly suited to his oddball verse and prose. The first book of 15, "The Unstrung Harp," describes the writing process of novelist Mr. Clavius Frederick Earbrass: "He must be mad to go on enduring the unexquisite agony of writing when it all turns out drivel." In "The Listing Attic," you'll find a set of quirky limericks such as "A certain young man, it was noted, / Went about in the heat thickly coated; / He said, 'You may scoff, / But I shan't take it off; / Underneath I am horribly bloated.' "
Many of Gorey's tales involve untimely deaths and dreadful mishaps, but much like tragic Irish ballads with their perky rhythms and melodies, they come off as strangely lighthearted. "The Gashlycrumb Tinies," for example, begins like this: "A is for AMY who fell down the stairs, B is for BASIL assaulted by bears," and so on. An eccentric, funny book for either the uninitiated or diehard Gorey fans.
Contains: The Unstrung Harp, The Listing Attic, The Doubtful Guest, The Object Lesson, The Bug Book, The Fatal Lozenge, The Hapless Child, The Curious Sofa, The Willowdale Handcar, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Insect God, The West Wing, The Wuggly Ump, The Sinking Spell, and The Remembered Visit.
I am a fan of Edward Gorey, have been ever since I first saw a poster for The Gashlycrumb Tinies at the mall when I was a teenager. Something about his dark humor and wit spoke to me. Last year, while shopping for Readahon books (seriously, I do this all the time, despite the hundreds of unread books on my shelves), I found this book in a used bookstore. As per usual, I didn’t get to Amphigorey during readathon. I’m sure ya’ll can relate.
I picked this up the other day for a FrightFall Read-a-thon selection, as it also goes nicely with Bloggers Dressed in Blood and the RIP VIII reading challenge. Despite being a Gorey fan, I had only read a few of these stories before. My favorite remains The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which is morbidly wonderful and features a young girl name Kate who has an unfortunate encounter with an axe. The book is full of Goreyness, in his clever limericks, and his creepy drawings. It’s the perfect October read, setting the mood for the rest of the reading I’m planning this week.
The book opens with The Unstrung Harp, which details the trials and tribulations of an author writing a book. Maybe it’s because National Novel Writing Month will be here in week, but it felt very appropriate to start things off with, although it’s probably the slowest read in the book. The Hapless Child was among my favorites as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on the other volumes of Amphigorey soon!
Amphigorey Vol. 1 gets a Midnight Book Rating of:
The code word is: Conjuring
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