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Posts Tagged ‘Edward Gorey’

Spoiler Alert, and Other News

February 16, 2016 | by

The Death of Chatterton

Henry Wallis, The Death of Chatterton, 1856, oil paint on canvas.

  • To die in literature is to achieve fictional immortality, argues John Williams. “Just a cursory list of memorable deaths (spoilers ahead) can make all of literature seem like one long Edward Gorey strip: Cathy in Wuthering Heights; Beth in Little Women; Piggy in Lord of the Flies; Cordelia in King Lear; more or less everyone in Hamlet; Leonard Bast in Howards End; Anna Karenina; and perhaps most agonizingly, the small children in Jude the Obscure.”
  • Conversely: “15 Books to Read if You Love a Shocking Plot Twist.” (At some point, Hamlet would have made this list.)
  • Stéphane Heuet’s controversial—but wildly popular—graphic novelization of À la recherche du temps perdu has finally hit the UK. One reviewer—a Proust virgin—finds it “a good and gentle place to start. Sumptuous, elegant and beautifully paced, it is completely absorbing. Will it send me to the real thing? Maybe, one day. But whatever happens, this volume is a work of art in its own right. I’ll be forever glad to have spent so much time bent over it.”
  • The following link is not included at all because it is illustrated by an image of a dollhouse. On the contrary, that is of no interest to us whatsoever. What is: a tribute to the late novelist Margaret Forster (she died February 8th) and her memoir, My Life in Houses. “As Forster moves from room to flat to house so the progress of her life reflects the pattern woven by childhood, academia, love, marriage, a career as a writer and then motherhood while a series of individuals who have marked her life inhabit the shadows within the structure of the bricks and mortar of the book. From her hard-working mother, her altruistic grandfather George, her two Oxford landladies, the imperious lace-capped Mrs. Brown, ‘straight out of Jane Austen’ and her tiny, deceptively smiley sister Fanny, who ran the house in a state of ‘suppressed fury’, to Sixties dinner parties at home with three of the four Beatles, each character takes up position fleetingly.”
  • Let’s just get it out of the way: you are about to read the words Mahler grooves. Besides everything else, this is sort of false advertising; Mahler does not groove so much as write a Sixth Symphony which has been widely interpreted—and reordered—by any number of conductors. The oiid app is pretty groovy, though: it allows you to effectively “step inside a performance,” exploring the recordings of a number of conductors against the score and, in the process, learn a new appreciation for the complex work. As Leonard Bernstein wrote, the Sixth contains “basic elements (including clichés) of German music, driven to their furious ultimate power. Result: Neurotic intensity, irony, extreme sentimentalism, despair … ” In other words, Tuesday. 

Edward Gorey Does the Classics

July 11, 2013 | by

Brain Pickings has posted a wonderful gallery of Edward Gorey’s Doubleday paperback covers, designed between 1953 and 1960. Some, like The War of the Worlds and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, feel like an obvious match for Gorey’s brand of Gothic whimsy. But the more unexpected pairings—his takes on Colette, Kierkegaard, and Chekhov—are just as amazing.




Loving Gorey, Trashing Ulysses

August 7, 2012 | by

  • Eve Bowen on the enduring cult of Edward Gorey.
  • We love Bookdrum’s interactive maps of the real locations featured in famous novels.
  • On his tumblr Newcover, graphic designer Matt Roeser gives books the covers he thinks they should have.
  • At the Atlantic, a discussion of what grown-ups can learn from kids’ books.
  • Paolo Coelho made waves when he told a Brazilian newspaper, “One of the books that caused great harm was James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is pure style. There is nothing there. Stripped down, Ulysses is a twit.”
  • Should you happen to disagree, here is a free audiobook of the modernist classic.
  • Joshua Cohen, a visiting scribe at the Jewish Book Council, talks the art and business of writing with Justin Taylor.
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    Kate Beaton on ‘Hark! A Vagrant’

    October 11, 2011 | by

    Kate Beaton makes comics about the Bröntes, Canadians, fat ponies, the X-Men, Hamlet, the American founding fathers, Raskolnikov, gay Batman, Nikola Tesla, Les Misérables, Nancy Drew, Greek myths, and hipsters throughout history. Little is spared her lively pen and waggish, incisive wit. Born in Nova Scotia, Beaton studied history and anthropology, discovering through her university’s newspaper that she could put her knowledge of people, places, and dates to work in a humor column and, later, in comic strips. In 2007, she launched Hark! A Vagrant, which now receives more than a million hits each month. Her new book, of the same name, lampoons Kierkegaard, lumberjacks, Marie Curie, Jay Gatsby, Anne of Cleves, Oedipus, and everyone in between.

    Do you remember the first comic you drew in college?

    It was about Vikings! Vikings invading the school campus. It was a how-to guide for dealing with this breaking news. The Vikings were very interested in biology class, apparently. In comics, everybody is an expert in their own sense of humor, so either you’re funny to someone else or you’re not. And it’s putting yourself out there quite a bit for someone who is a little bit shy, which I was. I didn’t put my name on the first comics I submitted in case people hated them. You don’t want to be that person who’s unfunny. Trying to be funny and not being funny? That’s awful.

    Read More »


    Staff Picks: Microstyle, The Epiplectic Bicycle

    July 29, 2011 | by

    I am buying Christopher Johnson’s Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little after reading Dwight Garner’s review in the New York Times. Johnson is a branding consultant (he worked at Lexicon Branding, a firm that has invented names such as Blackberry and Powerbook). “‘Feminine’ brand names,” he writes, “like Chanel, are often iambs; ‘masculine’ ones, like Black & Decker, tend to be trochees.” —Thessaly La Force

    In an effort to reclaim my childhood, I dug up Edward Gorey’s The Epiplectic Bicycle: “It was the day after Tuesday and the day before Wednesday. Embley and Yewbert were hitting one another with croquet mallets.” Need I say more? —Eli Mandel

    I picked up Sara Wheeler’s The Magnetic North for a brief respite from the city heat, but now I’m itching to hitch a ride on an ice breaker, wrangle up some reindeer, and embark upon that great milky abyss, the Arctic circle. —Mackenzie Beer

    I just saw the documentary Page One, which was described to me as an “inside look at the production of The New York Times.” Really, it’s more of a riveting love letter to journalism. David Carr, the media columnist on whom the film focuses, is humorous, gritty, and lovable—exactly my idea of the perfect newspaperman. —Sophie Haigney

    The winners of this year’s Bulwer-Lytton bad-sentence contest outdid themselves. My favorite: “As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.” —Sadie Stein

    In anticipation of John Berger’s Bento’s Sketchbook, I’ve been paging through I Send You This Cadmium Red, a book of correspondence between Berger and the artist John Christie. Their first letter is a painted square of color—the eponymous color, of course—which leads them to exchanges on everything from the blue of Yves Klein to the blue of Matisse. The accumulation is a monument to friendship, art, and the art of letter writing. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

    Continuum took two things that I love—music writing and books that  fit in my back pocket—and put them together to make a series that is my favorite thing ever. I plan to get through all eighty-three books, each of which contains a critical discussion of one classic album. Up first for me was Nas’s Illmatic. Up next? Maybe My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. Or Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane over the Sea. —Cody Wiewandt

    If book reviews could kill. Slate has three golden rules for reviewing. —Ali Pechman

    Just in case anyone forgot, Splitsider reminds us of the sexual shenanigans on Friends. C. W.

    Watch all nine minutes of this video, where the life of a baby humpback whale is saved after it becomes dangerously entangled in a nylon fishing net. —T. L.


    A Week in Culture: Caitlin Roper, Editor

    July 14, 2010 | by


    9:20 A.M. Owen Gray album Forward on the Scene (1975) in my headphones on the way to work. This album is so good, it lightens my heart. I remember my favorite Gray song, his version of “Give Me Little Sign.” I put it on. Before I realize it, I start smiling at strangers. Q train over the Manhattan Bridge, you’re beautiful!

    10:00 A.M. I’ve been reading an incredible novel that we have on submission. I don’t mean to be a tease, but I can’t give any revealing information away. The novel is set in Alaska and it’s so damn good I want everyone I know to read it. A Culture Diary blind item should probably be juicier than this. I apologize.

    11:30 A.M. My friend Aram Goudsouzian’s new book King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution arrives. I actually bought it on Amazon. Aram teaches history at the University of Memphis. His last book was about Sidney Poitier. This man impresses me.

    5:15 P.M. This article on “forest-bathing” in the Times makes me happy. “The scientists found that being among plants produced 'lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,' among other things.” But then I look out the office window and feel sad. I love each of the many plants in my apartment, but I need a forest bath.

    6:40 P.M. After a conversation about a book idea, my friend Dave recommends I read Janet Malcolm’s “Iphigenia in Forest Hills” in The New Yorker. How did I miss it? It was published at least six weeks ago, the issue is sitting in one of many stacks of reading material that accumulate in my apartment, layer after layer, like dust (except that I long to read them, not sweep them up). I start the piece1 online.

    12:00 A.M. I have to read so much for work that I tend to consume a lot of visual and audio culture when I have free time. I often look at photography online. The Big Picture’s photo essays are often incredible and I love the visual narratives on the Lens Blog but I also check out Burn Magazine and Multimedia Muse when I want my web browser to transform into a window that looks out at a new view.

    1:30 A.M. My friend Max sent me this beautiful Flickr set of Edward Gorey’s book covers. I have to look at each and every design. They blow my mind. The cover for Nineteenth Century German Tales features a huge spider on fire. I love it. I think I first fell in love with Gorey’s work2 as a kid, after I saw his enchanting title sequence3 for PBS’s Mystery!

    2:15 A.M. I wonder if my late-night habits are stranger than most people’s. I often spend the hours online looking at images while I listen to records. Right now I am listening to an album I love, The Pointer Sister’s Energy (1978). These ladies have it all: beauty, strength, soul, and talent. They started out singing at the Church Of God in West Oakland as kids. I’m from Berkeley; is it an East Bay connection I have to the Pointers? I’m not sure. Their careers took off before I was born. My first interaction with their music was probably Pinball Number Count on Sesame Street4.

    I have already spent an hour on threading through all kinds of images, now I’m looking at I love these sites. I save my favorites in folders like: “Albinos,” “Michael Caine,” “Lions & Tigers,” “Sky,” “Apocalypse,” “Hot or Not.” How weird5 is that on a scale from normal to freaky? Read More »


    1. Malcolm’s account of the trial of Mazoltuv Borukhova and Mikhail Mallayev for the murder of Borukhova’s estranged husband is the best article I’ve read in months. Janet Malcom makes sense of mayhem. She is patient. She lurks in all of the grey areas of this case. She’s perceptive, she allows the characters to take shape, and her own feelings about them to shift and evolve. I admire her brain and her writing. This isn't journalism, exactly—but what is it?
    2. Did you know Gorey, the great midcentury Victorian, never traveled to Britain, not once in his entire life?
    3. I’ll never forget that woman with a bob, lying on the top of the stone wall in her flapper dress, her ankles bound, dangling her handkerchief and moaning suggestively.
    4. Do you remember the psychedelic one-minute segments on how to count to twelve? I do. Why? Soundtrack by The Pointer Sisters!
    5. People do weirder stuff than that, right? RIGHT? IS ANYONE ELSE AWAKE?