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The Epiplectic Bicycle

4.39 of 5 stars 4.39  ·  rating details  ·  2,273 ratings  ·  59 reviews
While Embley and Yewbert are hitting one another with croquet mallets one day, an untenanted bicycle rolls into their garden. This book chronicles their adventures across turnip fields, through barns and into bushes.
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published June 1st 1998 by Harcourt Brace & Company (first published 1969)
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Having misread the title as "The Epileptic Bicycle", I was waiting for some kind of velocipedic convulsion which never happened. Having re-read the title, I understand why.

Both text and illustrations are slight and, while not without interest, neither really grabbed me. But, I think there may be more in here than my first reading uncovered, so I'll give it a short while and read it again to see if I can plumb some hidden depths.

Update 25-05-2015: I have read it again, and there are no hidden dep
THE EPIPLECTIC BICYCLE is one of the Gorey's usual stories told through ink drawings accompanied by pithy captions. This tale concerns Embley and Yewbert, two children who are distracted from their pastime of hitting each other with croquet mallets by a sentient bicycle that appears out of nowhere. Thereupon they hop on and go through various adventures, ending in a shocking revelation that seems right out of the "Voyage of Bran". The story is one of great whimsy and a love of nonsense, and amus ...more
Embley and Yewbert's surreal adventures on their epipleptic bike. They begin with a fight with croquet hammers (a novelty weapon!) and then, amongst other things, pass through a field of turnips, which are not there, and meet up with an alligator. The alligator gets hit after it attacks them and, in typical Gorey style, utters the immortal (!) words "I die." Great fun and, as always, beautifully illustrated by the author.
Embley and Yewbert have a harrowing journey on an untenanted bicycle. I am very fond of the instance in which an alligator accosts them and Embley kicks it in the nose, and it expires. I like books in which the next page does not indicate anything that one can/will/should expect on the following.
i have a crush on edward gorey. wouldn't it be great to be his friend, and have him write you birthday cards like the curious sofa?
Delightful and splendid with the usual Gorey whimsy.
Charming, absurd, not overly precious but totally lovable.
This book is really weird. It kind of reminds me of a Tim Burton film. I kind of liked this story because it is really random and creepy.
Sara Alaee
Nothing specific to say. It's just a random funny story that I happened to like!
Tiffany-Rae Lowe
I'm so confused but so intrigued at the same time.
Gorey is a master of infusing a minor quirky moment into an entire, enchanting, story.
Robert Day
I like silly and I like surreal, but my like does not extend to this book.

I need there to be a little sense beneath the sill. I desire there to be a clever play on words or an in-joke I can appreciate in the company of a select audience.

I could find none of this here.

So sorry.

Just one more thing: according to the interweb - epiplectic is a form of the word epiplexis, which is a Greek word which means to chide or shame someone into better behavior.
John Whipple
"Beware of this and that."
Each frame has such dark portent and allegorical potential. This was my second purchased and still favorite of the Gorey books, and a grim reminder to never have siblings. (view spoiler)
Whitney Watercutter
The best conclusion one can come to concerning this book is that Gorey's characters operate within their own laws of space, time, and normalcy. The second best conclusion is that Gorey did, in fact, muddle the language and translation of this book up on purpose so as to delight the reader and annoy the critics (and honestly, they were getting too big for their britches anyways, weren't they?).
Welbeck Kane
Of all the books I own this one might possibly be the one I return to the most. The fact that it is very short is one reason; an alligator that rises out of a puddle shouting,"Ho!" is another. Certainly not the most disturbing of Gorey's books (children only beat each other with croquet mallets in this one), but maybe his funniest and most mysterious. And my favourite.
Santiago Restrepo
Un relato epiplectico de un viaje extraño con tintes absurdos. Una historia maravillosa sin mucho sentido acompañada de hermosas ilustraciones y un olor muy bonito. Esta es una edición muy especial, recomendado para quienes quieren pasar un rato rompiendo algunas reglas literarias.
Dec 15, 2010 E rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
Despite the plot indicated in the title, it is one of Gorey's most fluid tales. The puppetmaster of poetry and pictures, Gorey proves once again to be the definitive auteur of literature and the term "in a class by himself" dodges cliché with a swerve of the handlebars.
The Doubtful Guest is still my favorite gorey, but this one does have some moving renditions of drowning. right? am i thinking of the right one?
Huda AbuKhoti
This is definitely a book full of entertaining "nonsense".

Quick, funny, creepy and beautiful ink drawings. Still not my Edward Gorey's favorite book though.
Chanced upon at a bookstore, and this was a great 5 min on-the-spot read! My intro to Edward Gorey (why didn't I know about him before??) and one that's made me an instant fan. I bet I can revisit this book again and again to discover more.
Caleb Liu
This was a lovely Christmas gift from a dear friend. It was completely random and delightfully funny. I loved the illustrations. Definite proof that two wheels are better than four (at least in cases where the two wheels propel themselves)!
Mar 25, 2007 Jessie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a strange and beautiful story
Shelves: faves
I am a huge fan of Edward Gorey (as you can tell by my book list) but this is by far my favorite story he wrote. Even the title sounds absurd yet beautiful. Try it, say it out loud, it's beautiful to say.
Apr 30, 2015 Katie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: art, weird
Randomly picked up this book at work. Someone had donated it to the library. It took like 1 minute to read. It was random, but kind of neat and funny. The illustrations are great.
What can be said about the epiplectic bicycle? I smiled to death.
Juliana Mendes
Um autor que já deveria ter chegado por aqui há mais tempo.

Esta primeira publicação nos deixa com um gostinho de quero mais!

Uma dica para a Cosac Naify: PUBLIQUEM MAIS GOREY!
George Spirakis
Θα μπορούσαν όλα να είναι αλλιώς σε αυτήν την ιδιαίτερη ιδέα, αλλά σεβόμενος την άποψη του καλλιτέχνη - συγγραφέα, περιορίζομαι απλά στην αρνητική κριτική μου.
Edward Gorey does the strangest books and I love them all! This one has strange chapters, few words, simple drawings and a plot that doesn't make sense at all.
Sam Gilbert
A marvelous study of the long and fascinating history of bicycle manufacture in the Trobriand islands. Recommended for all fans of legionnaire's disease and arbitrage.
This one is the funniest I have read by Edward Gorey. It is something I would read my brother and that he would probably laugh at, but listen carefullyº.
Jeri Lane
I love this book. Its simplicity is wonderful. The artistry is gorgeous with its darkness and cross-hatchings. I am always entertained.
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Born in Chicago, Gorey came from a colorful family; his parents, Helen Dunham Garvey and Edward Lee Gorey, divorced in 1936 when he was 11, then remarried in 1952 when he was 27. One of his step-mothers was Corinna Mura, a cabaret singer who had a brief role in the classic film Casablanca. His father was briefly a journalist. Gorey's maternal great-grandmother, Helen St. John Garvey, was a popular ...more
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