Three Gorey titles have just landed on bookstore shelves. From Pomegranate Press comes "Thoughtful Alphabets: The Just Dessert & the Deadly Blotter" (64 pp., $14.95), previously published only in obscure, limited editions, and "The Osbick Bird" (32 pp., $12.95), a Gorey classic unavailable for four decades, except in poor quality in "Gorey's Amphigorey Too" anthology, but now restored to a clarity so sharp-nibbed it almost hurts the eye.Columbia University put on a Gorey exhibit last summer, after a large donation by Andrew Alpern.
Bloomsbury is also in on the act with "Saint Melissa the Mottled" (48 pp., $12), an unpublished story that Gorey never got around to illustrating, supplemented here with images from the Gorey archive, some never before published.
Gorey’s work tends to combine whimsically grim storylines with dour yet dancerly protagonists. Whether they are Edwardian ladies, fur-coated gentlemen, ill-fated children, or unusual animals, his characters are almost always on some kind of journey. His stories often unfold in wallpapered rooms, on barren estates, or among statues, beast-shaped topiaries, and urns. “Few seem to return from the borders to which I’ve sent them,” he wrote to Peter Neumeyer, with whom he collaborated on three children’s books in the late 1960s. (Their correspondence has recently been collected in an absorbing, elegantly illustrated book, Floating Worlds.) Perhaps this is what gives Gorey’s work its talismanic power: his books and drawings, which are so often about imagined deaths and disasters, turn into lucky charms for his readers.LARB, again: "Consider "The Osbick Bird": It's a sweetly melancholy surrealist fable about Edwardian eccentric Emblus Fingby's odd (but fond) friendship with the even odder bird of the title. Gorey, an only child and lifelong solitary, was famously an odd bird himself — tall, long-legged and gawky like the bird in the book, with the luxurious beard of a Victorian literatus and a sense of style that ran to fur coats and tennis shoes."
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