The Lighter Side of Edward Gorey

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Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life
and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey

by Mark Dery
Little Brown. 503 pages, $35.

 

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From The Curious Sofa (1971)

     For those men who had come onto the scene and come out fully as gay, someone like Gorey might have been a major embarrassment. Except for the fact that he was Edward Gorey, author of those “forty small books,” whose effect was anything but small. The first one that I recall was The Curious Sofa (1961), subtitled “A Pornographic Work by Ogdred Weary,” a book about a piece of furniture that apparently induced eroticism in the user (in keeping with the ’60s dictum that “anything goes”). All in the most precise, dispassionate language, the message can be subtly lascivious, with Gorey’s characteristically static, but often quite suggestive, illustrations. The caption to the penultimate frame of the book, when seemingly all the possibilities of living creatures’ physical combinations had been exhausted, is: “And many were the barks and giggles.” The tone is perfectly restrained even when he’s detailing utter perversity.

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Felice Picano’s latest fiction is Justify My Sins: A Hollywood Novel in Three Acts(Beautiful Dreamer Press).

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