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The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  33,986 ratings  ·  2,241 reviews
Twenty-three illustrated gothic tales from the dark corridors of the imagination of Tim Burton. Burton - the creative genius behind Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Nightmare Before Christmas, among others - now gives birth to a cast of gruesomely sympathetic children: misunderstood outcasts who struggle to find love and belonging in their cruel, cruel worlds ...more
Paperback, 20th Anniversary Edition, 128 pages
Published October 4th 2018 by Faber & Faber (first published 1997)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories, Timothy Walter Burton

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories is a 1997 poetry book written and illustrated by American film director Timothy Walter Burton.

The poems, which are full of black humor, tell stories of hybrid kids, spontaneous transformers, and women who have babies to win over men.

Some characters of the book would later appear in the Flash series Stainboy, which was created, directed, and written by Burton: Stick Boy a
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
This is me--a huge Tim Burton fan (or so I thought):

One day, while carelessly browsing the Internets, I came across a book that I had no idea existed. I couldn't believe my eyes and felt especially stupid when realization hit me: I must have been living under a rock in a God-forsaken place, as never before had I heard of this book:

Of course, as soon as I realized that I had to have this book, another realization hit bullseye: remember that God-forsaken place, the one where I lived under a rock?
Amalia Gkavea
‘’The final gasp of his short life
Was sickly with despair.
Whoever thought that you could die
From breathing outdoor air?’’

For most lovers of the 7th Art, Tim Burton is an incredible talent. For us Gothic aficionados, Tim Burton is a genius, a pioneer whose creations opened the audience's heart and mind to the contemporary Gothic style, aesthetics, and philosophy. He is the one who found the perfect balance between the satire of how most people perceive the Gothic wave, evident in Beetlejuice,
“Alone and rejected, Mummy Boy wept,
then went to the cabinet
where the snack food was kept.”

― Tim Burton, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories


I needed to read today. I didn't want to simply read, I NEEDED to read . I felt a need to clear the voices of Mrs. Dalloway from my mind. The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories, was the perfect book to do so.


This is a collection of grim short poems/stories depicting the lives and misfortunes of a group of sympathetic outc
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: burton fans, dark humor lovers.
Recommended to Florencia by: me!
I'm a fan of Burton's movies. So I was kind of interested in his writings. It wasn't a big surprise to find out that the level of awesome weirdness was similar. The distinctive Burton mixture of darkness and uncomfortable tenderness.

I mean, he wrote some really odd poems (technically, not that great, and that is a charming plus) but their sweetness and sensibility are touching. Well, most of the times, they're just sad. However, this book is written in a way that seems to be funny, and for some
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this tiny tome was sort of like taking a prolonged vacation on The Island of Really, Really Misfit Toys. The natives are strange but friendly. They take some getting used to, but after a while, you'll want to hug them...BUT be careful - many of them have sharp objects sticking out of their bellies.


The Boy with Nails in His Eyes

The Boy with Nails in His Eyes
put up his aluminum tree.
It looked pretty strange
because he couldn't see.

The above is a pretty good example of what's in this boo
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour, poetry
A short collection of macabre poems, illustrated like a children's book, but aimed more at the YA market, and delightful for dark-thinking adults as well.

There are lots of gory things about eyes, stories of non-human children (toxic, half robot, half oyster etc) and a most inappropriate present from Santa.

Occasionally the rhythm doesn't quite work at the first attempt, but even so, it's great fun.

It is strongly reminiscent of Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children (my review HERE), bu
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I don't have much to say. It's a collection of short poems and accompanying doodles by Tim Burton. It's damned creepy, freaking depressing, laugh out loud funny, and utterly awesome.
amy ☂︎
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, 2017, reread
nothing but macabre, delightfully weird and absolutely nonsensical: this is why i'm a tim burton stan.

i couldn't have picked a better time to reread this. halloween month without burton content???? not in this household.

"The Boy with Nails in His Eyes
put up his aluminum tree.
It looked pretty strange
because he couldn't really see."



i would marry tim burton's humor if i could. most of his art just doesn't make sense at all, and that's why i fuck
The Artisan Geek
Very peculiar, but also very good and very Burton.

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website | The Storygraph
Asghar Abbas
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I wonder what it would be like to live inside Tim Burton's head ala Being John Malkovich, such talent, such virile imaginations, to dwell within his noggin for a while, you know? I don't know why but for some reason I have always held Burton's creativity on par with Neil Gaiman's, though their style is very dissimilar, but both have distinct styles, that's almost as important as talent. I feel these little stories about grotesque beauty, and what a beauty it was, were full of metaphors, heavy wi
Jim Ef
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damn!!! This is so dark but yet so funny mr.Burton

Its a collection of very short stories about very strange beings. There are no happy endings at all. You see all of those likeable people ( or matchsticks or whatever ) and you think, aww its sad what happened with them, i bet things will be good in the end.........NO.
Im not proud but i laughed with the most of the stories, is it something wrong with me? should i be worried?

Read this book, i don't know why or how but it will cheer you up
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Half-oyster, half-boy, Oyster Boy is born to a perfectly human couple who supposedly conceived him after dining on “one spectatular dish- / a simmering stew of mollusks and fish.” Growing up, Oyster Boy, whose proper name is Sam but is sometimes called "that thing that looks like a clam," becomes a laughingstock (“When the Thompson quadruplets espied him one day, / they called him a bivalve and ran quickly away.) and a picture of sadness and reticence (“One spring afternoon, / Sam was left in th ...more
Danni The Girl
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reading
The melancholy death of the oyster boy was the creepiest one for me I think.

Very short, very weird.

Tim Burton I think has such a vast imagination which I thoroughly enjoy

Although I’m not sure if he’s trying to tell us all that having a child to save a relationship will be the ruin of you?

Fun fact about me I'm OBSESSED with Tim Burton's work. I'm totally in love with Jack Skellington mostly but all of Tim Burton's work just makes me extremely happy. So it's no surprise this book was a must have on my shelf and in my life. I absolutely loved it! ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Tim Burton's movies for their beautiful cinematography and sense of macabre with a pinch of dark humor.
His poetry is right up my alley, just like the stories of Edward Gorey (who is known to have influenced Burton).

Roy, the Toxic Boy

To those who knew him
-his friends-
we called him Roy.
To others he was known
as that horrible Toxic Boy.

He loved ammonia and asbestos,
and lots of cigarette smoke.
What he breathed in for air
would make other people choke!

His very favorite toy
was a can of aerosol
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe how old this book is already, stumbled across it whilst looking in a box in the loft.

If you are a fan of Tim Burton's a nightmare before Christmas and corpse bride then you'll love this book. The illustrations are stunning and really freaky, the poems themselves are pretty messed up. There are a lot about kids and babies and couples trying for a baby, the results of which don't end well. The titles are genius, examples; Jimmy, the hideous penguin boy and the boy with nails in hi
Christy Bailleul
This is a bit of melancholy fun from Tim Burton, who I adore. I love his skewed view of the world and how he can take the scary or off-putting and make it interesting or even adorable. I love the illustrations that bring his poems and little stories to life.
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of very very short stories which are all written in verse and have an accompanying illustration or illustrations. This whole book was written and illustrated by Tim Burton who is one of my favourite artists and I was very intrigued when I stumbled across this on Amazon. It's a very small book but it's a brilliant one and I have to say that it was better than I thought it would be.

This collection showcases some of Burton's weird character ideas and stories and whilst some sto
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Burton's artwork is often described as Goofy Gothic. Simple, surreal, and fantastically strange. I've always been a huge fan of Tim Burton's work in the past, (and ever since I was a kid.) So you can probably imagine how excited I was, to find out about the existence of this book. I recently got the chance to read it, and I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed. The poetry was bizarre and minimalistic, and the artwork simple and odd. (Each had that trademark Tim Burton style) that I love ...more
Robert Beveridge
Tim Burton, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories (Morrow, 1997)

Someone needs to explain this to me and fast, `cause I don't get it: how is it that bad poetry (and yes, folks, this is truly bad) and art that looks like a second-rate Edward Gorey ripoff (Burton is not the illustrator that he is the sculptor and animator) can be so insanely funny? I am completely at a loss for why I liked this anywhere near as much as I did.

Let's face it, if you squint right while watching The Night
Mairéad (is roaming the Undying Lands)
“Son, are you happy?
I don't mean to pry,
but do you dream of Heaven?
Have you ever wanted to die?”

4.5 stars because honestly it's just plain creepy and I want more!

As a Tim Burton fan myself, I never heard of this until my cousin, who's probably the BIGGEST Tim Burton fan ever (she wears black and she collects EVERYTHING Tim Burton and I'm rather jealous lol) showed me the book one day when I was visiting. It's the most wondrous and bizarre read I could ever have the pleasure of experiencing. It
Viv JM
I picked this up on a whim and am glad I did! This short collection of stories told in verse is (as you'd expect from Tim Burton) funny, twisted, horrifying, macabre and somehow also rather poignant. The illustrations are marvellous too. Personal fave, The Pincushion Queen:

Life isn't easy
for the Pin Cushion Queen.
When she sits on her throne
pins push through her spleen.

Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
If you're a fan of Tim Burton, you'll love this. It's funny, it's heartwarming, and the art is incredible as usual. I read these all aloud to my sister in between classes and we both loved it a lot. These were definitely meant to be enjoyed aloud and in company! ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, short-stories
Truly entertaining! I started out reading to myself, however, I made a chortle and my hubby was curious, so, I began again at the beginning, this time, reading out loud. I thought my eyes might pop out at the final illustration of "Staring Girl," which was clever and surprising. Then, my favorite was, "Voodoo Girl" for both the rhymes and illustrations, which were delicate and creepy. There seemed to be a similar theme to some of the stories, a longed-for offspring turning out to be something ve ...more
Sara Alaee
Strange but nice poems!
Paul Sánchez Keighley
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton is exactly what you would expect from a book called The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton. I mean, come on, it's The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton! What were you expecting, Shakespeare's sonnets? If you were looking for Shakespeare's sonnets, why did you pick up a book called The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton? The rhymes aren't great, t ...more
Charlotte Jones
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of mad ideas and sometimes disturbing themes, but overall these poems are easy to read, enjoyable and enhanced by the wonderful illustrations provided by Tim Burton. It is something that I could easily read just a few poems out of if I didn't have much time, or something that I will definitely be re-reading in its entirity at some point in the future. Robot Boy is my favourite of the collection due to the humour and interesting accompanying images. ...more
Narges Moini
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The girl who turned into a bed!

It happened that day
she picked up a strange pussy willow.
Her head swelled up white
and a soft as a pillow.

Her skin, which had turned
all flaky and rotten,
was now replaced
with 100% cotton.

Through her organs and torso
she sprouted like wings,
a beautiful set
of mattress and springs.

It was so terribly strange
that I started to weep.
But at least after that
I had a nice place to sleep
This is a collection of short poems accompanied of drawings in which cruelty and tenderness is mixed with some strange and lonely children.
It´s a terribly creepy and madly depressing book, but made me laugh too.

Voodoo girl

Her skin is white cloth,
and she’s all sewn apart
and she has many colored pins
sticking out of her heart.

She has many different zombies
who are deeply in her trance.
She even has a zombie
who was originally from France.

But she knows she has a curse on her,
a curse she cannot wi
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Timothy "Tim" William Burton is a prolific American film director/writer, best known for the dark imagery and quirky nature of his popular films. He is also the author and illustrator of the poetry collection "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories." ...more

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44 likes · 65 comments
“Stick Boy liked Match Girl,
He liked her a lot.
He liked her cute figure,
he thought she was hot.

But could a flame ever burn
for a match and a stick?
It did quite literally;
he burned up quick.”
“Son, are you happy?
I don't mean to pry,
but do you dream of Heaven?
Have you ever wanted to die?”
More quotes…