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The Strange Case of Edward Gorey

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  422 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Originally released as a slim paperback 10 years ago (now out of print and fetching collector's prices), this in-depth illustrated monograph on the late, great Edward Gorey returns as a thoroughly rewritten, expanded and redesigned hardcover. Drawing from a multitude of reference and his own personal relationship to Gorey, literary heavyweight Alexander Theroux has accompl ...more
Hardcover, 166 pages
Published February 14th 2011 by Fantagraphics (first published August 15th 2000)
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
The following is float’d by Vox Populi.

It is an historical document.

It’s author neither endorses nor disavows its content, its form ; nor even acknowledges or disavows its very existence.

Your all mature adults ; make up you’re own dam’d minds.

(but you have been warned)

The Meta-Review; Or, The Review as Cannibal
Now, New & Improved with Post-Script

[Curmudgeon warning. You've been warned. I don't want to hear about it.]

a catalog and platform for Mr. Theroux to show us just
Anthony Vacca
May 23, 2014 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note: A longer and revised version of this book was published in 2011, eleven years after this slimmer version was published through Alex’s current publishing home, Fantagraphics.

A delightful freeform eulogy for Edward Gorey, the (sometimes) reclusive and eccentric creator of deceptively simple gothic picturebooks. Instead of approaching a biography in any conventional manner, Theroux tackles the enigmatic nature of his subject by relaying a constant stream of personal anecdotes and asides colle
MJ Nicholls
This is a review of the 67-page first paperback edition and not the expanded hardback released in 2011 (to be read in due course for Theroux completionism). As a primer for the works of Gorey, this handsome monograph has achieved its aim—ordered are two meek-budgeted EG compilations—and is, perchance, even better in the longer version. EG comes across as the kind of fabulous eccentric and semi-recluse we all aspire to be in our darkest of hearts and Theroux’s prose is full of affection and fabul ...more
Mar 03, 2016 Cody rated it it was amazing
Polymath, polyglot, bon vivant, urbane wit, raconteur, blue-stocking’d savant, pan-literate, pan-dimensional, supercalifragilisticexpiAlTheroux-cious! Is there anything that this sumbitch can’t do and excel at?!? The Strange Case of Edward Gorey is, in every conceivable way, a triumph. I came to this book not as a fan of Gorey, but leave appreciating the human being that he was.

Disclosure: I grew up in the High Goth Era—P.H.T. (pre-Hot Topic), B.N.B.C (Before The Nightmare Before Christmas)—in a
Jun 11, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it
Shelves: dandies
Joseph Cornell, Edward Gorey, and James Merrill seem to me to have led exemplary lives.
Anita Dalton
Review snippet: This book has interesting moments but they are few and far between, and those moments are generally content that will not be new to long-term Gorey fans. Still, it was pleasant being reminded of how eccentric Gorey was, how he eventually stopped wearing fur because of his love of animals, how he sewed stuffed animals by hand as he watched television, how he would do work for anyone who asked, even those who could pay very little.

But after one admits that this book has some charm,
Jun 14, 2011 Emily rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
The book serves as a catalog and platform for Mr. Theroux to show us just how many obscure references and terms he could put to use while partially relaying conversations he had with Mr. Gorey. The writing was pretentious and wordy to the point of using parenthetical statements to explain itself and define words for the reader--there is something to be said for clarity and accessibility. More than a few times Theroux talks in circles, oftentimes recycling information; the disorganization of the ...more
David Gray
Having once had dinner with Ted Gorey I was very hopeful about liking this book. While it did provide a look at what it must have been like to be part of Gorey's circle of friends (which seems very small and exclusive indeed) I came away feeling that the author had relegated Gorey, over time, into a box labelled "nelly queen," and though I don't think those words appear in Theroux's book, it felt more and more that Theroux stopped trying to understand Gorey (apparently a very complicated and unl ...more
May 15, 2011 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a book.
a must for Gorey fans and devotees. The profile of E.Gorey is done in such a marvelous and intimate way in this book, that all the interviews i have read simply pale. Mr. Gorey simply told snippets and peculiarities of himself in cryptic and misleading answers for no reason other to get a rise out of people. Theroux's book paints the picture I have longed t see about Ogdread himself.
I simply can't enjoy this enough, maybe it is Theroux's personal and intimate style of writing or his
Beth Ann
A friend's recollection of Edward Gorey full of quotes and fussy prose prone to lists, commas, subphrases, dashes, and other stylistic tricks--almost as ornate as a Gorey drawing with its urns and clashing pattern wallpapers and carpets. Read the book slowly or some of its meaning may slip by. Sometimes the author falls into redundancy, but he is rescued by his love of subject and the dredging up of a good anecdote or zippy quote. Excerpts from Gorey's work and stills from his favorite films abo ...more
Reese Lightning
Gorgeously written, on the subject of a most fascinating character. I've always enjoyed Gorey's work, but I've now discovered a deeply kindred spirit, right down to his love of names. If you've any interest in how I personally function as a human being, read this book. It puts into words my very psyche, and is now an all-time favorite.
Apr 23, 2009 Rick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A bizarre tribute/biography of Gorey by a friend and collaborator. The tone is certainly Gorey-Victorian. Bring your thesaurus. This book is a pretentious name-dropping nightmare. It is fine when done to give a snapshot of Gorey's likes and dislikes, but way overdone.
Aug 13, 2016 Rage rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
aka, Edward Gorey: the Ur-Hipster

an interesting book to read. this shows an Edward Gorey I didn't know, because I'm familiar with him mostly only as the author of work that I love. in this book, he becomes human, with a tendency to say incredibly nasty things about people and no patience for doctors. his passion for commercial media seems to drive Theroux bonkers, since he repeats over and over again that Gorey somehow loves Buffy and also the kind of obscure classics that intellectuals can quot
Sep 25, 2014 Dominick rated it it was ok
I wish I liked this book better. I greatly admire Gorey's work, I think he deserves more attention than he's received, and Theroux speaks from a position of personal knowledge and intimate friendship across decades, so he ought to be able to deliver. But this book, call it what you will--biography, memoir--is just not satisfying. It reads like a random collection of recollections, not as a thought-out and organized elegy, or memoir, or biography, or panegyric, or anything really. It's formless. ...more
Jul 17, 2016 Rick rated it really liked it
Theroux says he knew Gorey for thirty years. It is an exhaustive compendium of Gorey's interests and dislikes, his activities, his peculiarities of character. He is more complex person than one might gather from his writings and drawings, and I was surprised to learn that he did a military stint at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah during World War II. He was widely read, a ballet aficionado, a puppeteer and playwright, and also rather reclusive. He was an omnivorous consumer of high and low cultur ...more
Oct 04, 2012 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a huge fan of Edward Gorey, and was excited to check this out. It's really more about the author than Gorey! I realize that Theroux is very intelligent and that Gorey could be kind of obtuse, but the book is practically unreadable. It's a series of biographical anecdotes about Gorey, but they're written using the largest words and most roundabout sentences possible.

I gave this one star for two reasons: I wanted to be able to list it here; also, the illustrations and photographs. I had seen m
May 23, 2017 David rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very entertaining portrait. Theroux moves the book along by alternating between descriptions of Gorey himself (his mannerisms, his way of dressing), his opinions (mostly on cinema and TV), and comparisons of Gorey to other literary figures (W. H. Auden, Lytton Strachey, Henry James, Phillip Larkin). Though the book is short, I felt I had absorbed as much of Gorey as Theroux was going to portray some time before it was over. Many details and anecdotes are repeated. Still, this didn't especially ...more
Sep 16, 2011 Belinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Look out folks--for once I did not choose a book that for some reason I absolutely loved. I did like it for it's information but the style was quite questionable. It's easy to see why the original of this book is a bit of a Holy Grail for extreme Gorey fans, which I am. There is so much information that is not available anywhere else--personal anecdotes that honestly really showed a lovely and fascinating picture of Gorey. He was adorable, eccentric, and a complete original. These were things I ...more
Oct 27, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admire Gorey more after reading this affectionate insider's stories. His writing style is highly entertaining. (numerous typos)

28..Shaw, on suffering
38..decidedly ungregarious, mainly because he was always self-booked for the day, drawing, writing, feeding cats, visiting a book shop, lunching, watching soaps/movies...
But why answer doors or phones? To appease the herd, the guttercats and vulgarians?
43..would do practically anything but sit down and work. With the slightest reason to leav
Jul 08, 2010 Adam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is randomly sectioned off into few-page chunks, and each section reads like an alternate version of every/any other section. Many contain wonderful stories or asides about Gorey, but they're often colored with the same supporting anecdotes. For example, I'm 2/3 through and some variation of 'how someone could like [sophisticated thing] AND have every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on VHS, I will never know.' has appeared 4, maybe even 5 times.

There are some weird, out-of-the-blue
Feb 22, 2012 Allan rated it really liked it
Theroux's biography of the eccentric illustrator Edward Gorey, who died in 2000 at 75, provides a privileged glimpse into the life of that most mysterious of eclectic geniuses. Less a biography I suppose than a rambling appreciation, a compendium of his eccentricities, there is much here to puzzle the fan who only knew him from his most well known collection, Amphigorey.[return]An extremely private man who nonetheless created a buzz wherever he appeared – dressed in full length fur coats, bering ...more
A very strange little book. Mr. Theroux writes a biography of his longtime friend Ted, better known to the world as Edward Gorey (or Ogdred Weary or one of this many other anagrams). Of course I'm a huge Gorey fan (why else would I read it?) so it was fun to read about Gorey's likes, dislikes, and quirks. For example. Likes: Buster Keaton, food, iron jewelry. Dislikes: Star Wars, people who don't understand irony. Etc. That being said, the writing is pretentious, which is a big turn-off for me. ...more
Jan 26, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Epiplectic bicycles, helpless doorknobs, flapping ankles
Recommended to Kate by: ACE
Shelves: biography-memoir
“Curtains are ominously pulled against intrusion. Legs protrude from ghoulish hedges. Topiary threatens. Wallpaper intimidates. It’s a doomscape of scary urns, doubtful guests, black dolls, abandoned gasworks, haunted gardens, empty rooms. A silence hangs over all, admonitory and poisoned and portentous.”

“Life is full of alternatives, but no choice.”

“At one indelicate point Venus even masturbates a unicorn!”

“All that we are not stares back at what we are.”

“Cats and monkeys; monkeys and cats; all
Oct 17, 2011 Pattie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very strange little book (much like the subject). It's essentially a list of the things Edward Gorey liked and didn't like: art, books, movies, TV, and people's behavior, interspersed with his favorite sayings, a few pictures from his book and many delightful handbills from his many plays and puppet shows. As a huge Gorey fan, those handbills, which I've never seen, are well worth the strange mysanthropic tone of the book.

I didn't think it possible that there was anyone crankier than
Oct 03, 2010 Judy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick little paperback written by the author about his friend Edward Gorey. The author and Edward Gorey are two locals for me so I was curious. I discovered I like the dark humor of Edward Gorey's drawings. I bought his book "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" - an alphabet book with drawings not really for children. Most people are probably familiar with his animation introducing "Mystery" on PBS. He died in 2000. There's an Edward Gorey museum on the Cape I intend to visit one of these days.
John Pappas
Feb 13, 2012 John Pappas rated it really liked it
I was always was a fan of Gorey - from my first viewing of the opening sequence of "Mystery!" to grisly and morose books that pepper my bookshelf. This book was less of a biography and more of a critique/analysis or memorial of his work, ethos and personality. It was a strange book. It rambled from comparison to personal reflection to memories and quips of Gorey's personal life. Odd little facets came to light throughout the book, painting a picture of a character created through years of splend ...more
Apr 07, 2011 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ugg-no-thanks
Not a poorly written book, per se, I just didn't like it. Gorey sounds like a trying personality. More panache than meaning...which if you look at his art, I guess it would make sense. Still, I was hoping for more. He seemed rather a paper-doll, flamboyant, sibilant-speaking gay man that liked to change outfits and say odd things just to be odd. Truth hurts I guess.
May 29, 2013 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essentially a book of Gorey's likes & dislikes, written by Paul Theroux's brother who knew the eccentric artist rather well. Though written a little high-minded (at times a wee bit pedantically off-putting) it's a must for any Gorey fan, which I am. & umm, my copy (which is the same one Goodreads shows here is 166 pages, not 68pages, FWIW.
Jul 03, 2011 Cathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the anecdotes and insights into this fascinating artist, but I wasn't enamored of the author's preening obsession with his own enormous vocabulary. It's worth the read if you love Gorey, and it's got lots of lovely pictures, too.
Johnny Confidence
Dec 06, 2013 Johnny Confidence rated it liked it
What this book really indicates is that his cats were the only ones who truly knew what we wanted to know. I admire the desire to discover Edward the way the author did. I really enjoyed it. I learned more about Mr Gorey's character and his true loves in life. I wish there was more.
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Alexander Theroux...: The Strange Case of Edward Gorey (2000/revised 2011) 2 12 Jan 08, 2013 08:57AM  
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Alexander Theroux is a novelist, poet, and essayist. The most apt description of the novels of Theroux was given by Anthony Burgess in praise of Theroux's Darconville's Cat: Theroux is 'word drunk', filling his novels with a torrent of words archaic and neologic, always striving for originality, while drawing from the traditions of Rolfe, Rabelais, Sterne, and Nabokov.
More about Alexander Theroux...

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