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

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  233 ratings  ·  77 reviews
From The Gashlycrumb Tinies to The Doubtful Guest, Edward Gorey's wickedly funny and deliciously sinister little books have influenced our culture in innumerable ways, from the works of Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman to Lemony Snicket. Some even call him the Grandfather of Goth.

But who was this man, who lived with over twenty thousand books and six cats, who roomed with Frank
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  233 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Miranda Reads
3.5 stars

But did anyone really know him? Did he even want to be known.
Edward Gorey is famously infamous.
Being nil, Gorey decided, was the safest policy.
His work provided the scaffolding and inspiration for Neil Gaiman's Coraline, for Tim Burton's creeptacular movies, for Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events and so much more.

And yet, surprisingly little is known about him.

He wrote many delightfully macabre books, which alternately impressed and horrified publishers.
"There's so li
Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
”Only now are art critics, scholars of children’s literature, historians of book-cover design and commercial illustration, and chroniclers of the gay experience in postwar America waking up to the fact that Gorey is a critically neglected genius. His consummately original vision--expressed in virtuosic illustrations and poetic texts but articulated with equal verve in book-jacket design, verse plays, puppet shows, and costumes and sets for ballets and Broadway productions--has earned him a place ...more
Montzalee Wittmann
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Deryis a book I requested and the review is voluntary.
I didn't even know who Edward Gorey was when I started this book, is that bad? Well I sure do now!
I love how this book is written. It is full of character and is very colorful just like the subject! Each chapter heading is unique, and the interviews, the subjects, the content, and the personal details are totally remarkably!
I started out knowing nothing
Dec 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm less than thrilled with the idea of readers receiving a book from a publisher in exchange for a review. I'm unsure why that is permitted at all, but at least it is noted when it occurs.

I found this book neither good nor bad. Does it capture Gorey's unique genius? No. Does it focus too much on his sexuality? Yes.

Meh. Stick to Gorey himself.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
So, are we just all gonna ignore the fact that Dery posthumously outed Gorey?

Page 136: "If such articles are to be believed, then 'Gorey wasn't necessarily gay, even though he was a lifelong bachelor who dressed in necklaces and furs....he was just asexual, a kind of lovable eunich.'"

Page 138: "Gorey kept perfectly mum about his true nature to the press; he only spoke about it in his art. And in a way, to be honest, the glass closet was appropriate to his artistic persona, which was neither her
Jim Coughenour
I first stumbled on Amphigorey in the summer of 1980 in a bookstore off Harvard Square – the moment of that discovery is cross-hatched in memory. (Up to that collection, according to Mark Dery, Gorey had been known only to the lucky few, particularly patrons of the Gotham Book Mart.) Later in the 1980s, at Booksellers Row in Chicago, I found 20 or more of the actual oblong books, seemingly moments after some ex-collector had dropped them off – and on Goreyesque winter evenings I lost myself amon ...more
Thomas Pluck
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It illuminates without washing out the wonder of the works or the man himself. A worthwhile read, like discovering Gorey's unique world again.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
BORN TO BE POSTHUMOUS. (2018). Mark Dery. ****.
This is an excellent study/appreciation of Edward Gorey. The full title runs on: “The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gory.” I didn’t know much about Gorey before reading this book, but that has changed it all. Gorey has a big following. I can recognize his work, but I am not a collector. The only short-coming of this book was its paucity of its illustrations. Although there were many reproductions of his work, there were too few. He
Mark Wheaton
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
That incredibly rare artist’s bio that makes you think you would’ve liked to know the subject IRL
Lolly K Dandeneau
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
via my blog:
'Things impermanent, incomplete: these were the sorts of things Gorey loved best.'

I was excited to learn months ago that there would be a book coming out about Edward Gorey, the man whose genius inspired the likes of Tim Burton and Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), among others including Anna Sui. Ahead of his time, the ‘too strange and eccentric nature’ of his creations later found a wider audience, certainly with my generation and those born af
Betsy Decillis
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a book that reveals more about the author than it does the subject matter.

Based on the cover and the description, I expected to be swept up into an incredible journey about an incredible man. That did not happen.

Whenever I did lock into the book and writing, that would be about when the author's extreme interest in whether Gorey was homosexual or asexual would rear its ugly head. It became uncomfortable and downright disrespectful to the man he was writing about.

In the end, the author
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a fan of Edward Gorey's work since I discovered a copy of The Curious Sofa on my parents shelves at about age ten, I have often wanted to know more about the enigmatic flamboyant artist behind the work. Mark Dery brilliantly examines the complexities of both the man and his work -- the philosophical underpinnings that make the art and the man so enticing and so difficult to pin down in some concise essential way. Given Gorey's elusiveness as a subject, it's no wonder it's taken nearly two dec ...more
In brief: The life of Edward Gorey, drawn largely from interviews, letters, and literary analysis, and occasionally illustrated.

Thoughts: I wanted so badly to like this a lot more than I did. I like Gorey’s work and I was curious to learn more about him, especially since I’ve seen stuff floating around that he was ace. And then, while reading, there was so much else about him that resonated: his determined individuality, his gothic leanings, a fair bit of his attitudes in general. He really felt
Lael Braday
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The heartbreak of a good biography is finding out that the artist whose work sings to you is not the person of your imagination. It’s almost like a friendship breaking up over irreconcilable differences. The joy of a great biography is reveling in all the nooks and crannies of the artist whose work speaks to you. Mark Dery’s representation of Edward Gorey’s life is well-researched—including interviews with friends, family, and colleagues—and often feels too intimate, probing as deeply as possibl ...more
Feb 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, mem
I love everything every done by Edward Gorey so I just had to read this book. And I enjoyed the biographical bits of it, the parts about his life, how at one stage he went to NYCB every single night of ballet season for about 20 years and wore rings and a long fur coat and sneakers and a big Santa beard, but then moved to Cape Cod where he collected cats and crystal doorknobs and potato mashers and other peculiar objects (I once visited the house, which is now a museum, and greatly admired the d ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This has turned out to be one of the most dog-eared books I've read since "Jerusalem," by Alan Moore. In the early 1980's I worked as the psychedelic buyer of used vinyl at a record store in Santa Cruz and one of my regular customers was a young man named Russell. Russell quickly discovered my dark sense of humour and one night we met to walk through a graveyard and then through the redwood forest at Henry Cowell State Park, which was entirely pitch black, we didn't make it very far, since we di ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This should be the last place you start your experience of Edward Gorey. Not because this book is bad, in fact it is quite good, but in order to appreciate this biography you really must be familiar with Gorey's work. And when I say familiar, I mean more than just having read the Gashlycrumb Tinies. Gorey was a many out of time and place but also of a conglomeration of particulars, and Mark Dery does an admirable job illustrating the man who really was, and wanted to be, an enigma. There is some ...more
Cindy Richard
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this biography about Edward Gorey. It was so well written that it was just as entertaining as a novel, but it also contained deep insights about Gorey and his work. I marked several passages that I plan to return to and think more deeply about. Last year, I identified about 20 artists that I would count as informal mentors, and Gorey was on list. I’ve always been intrigued by his individuality and the originality of his work - naturally, I was thrilled to hear that this biog ...more
Lisa Rector
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
"You never really choose anything. It's all presented to you, and then you have alternatives."
An enlightening discussion about the semi-mysterious person known as Edward (Ted) Gorey, who created a disturbing montage of enticing images, and unsettling books, that have captured the attention of numerous admirers. The explanatory excavation of various works, such as The Unstrung Harp, The Doubtful Guest, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and all of the others, including the truly hideous Loathsome Couple, as
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, biography
Few illustrators had as much impact on me as a kid as Edward Gorey--from the covers of the John Bellairs books to the Shrinking of Treehorn--the Gashlycrumb Tinies--with words as fascinating as the pictures--and like most people I thought he must be a long-dead Victorian artist. However, he was born in the Midwest and educated at Harvard; he served in the Army and lived for many years in Manhattan, before moving to Cape Cod in the 70s. He was eccentric and brilliant, maybe gay (but he perpetuall ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A real eye-opener! I'd built my own mystique around this author based on his Gashlycrumb Tinies tales (I have a mini lunchbox with his alphabet of doom); thus, even though Dery understandably did not fully get inside his subject, he has crafted an admirable and engrossing portrait of an elusive and enigmatic artist.
Audra Coleman
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Love the subject, but the author pulls a little too much psychoanalysis out of the works and details of Gorey's life.
Dec 17, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: biography-memoir
“I realize that homosexuality is a serious problem for anyone who is—but then, of course, heterosexuality is a serious problem for anyone who is, too,” he said. “And being a man is a serious problem and being a woman is, too. Lots of things are problems.”
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are many reasons to be fascinated by the life of Edward Gorey, a man who lived his life exactly as he chose. In this book, Mark Dery illuminates as much as he can about "Ted"'s childhood, his art, his writing, his relationships, while also being very clear about what he cannot tell. Remarkably even-handed yet also illuminating, this is a thorough and engaging biography of a brilliant oddball.
Antonia Malvino
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Born to be Posthumous is a thorough account of Edward Gorey's formative influences. The book delivers--from its title to its contents--a life account congruent with the works of the artist. An impressive biography, one rich in mood and dark humor.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had no interest in Edward Gorey before visiting his home on Cape Cod a few weeks ago. My curiosity was picked so I read this book which take the life of a reclusive writer and make this interesting. In addition the book is full of literary criticism Gorey's writings. I cannot think of a better way to spend a late autumn afternoon or evening than reading this book.
Eric Kennedy
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gorey
This book is getting rave reviews all over the internet, so there isn't a whole lot for me to add. I loved it, but I honestly don't know how quickly I would recommend it to others. Some biographies are written with a mass audience in mind. This is not one of them. This is a biography written for readers already enamored (or even a little obsessed) with Edward Gorey's work, who have perhaps read other books about him. It includes very few excerpts from Gorey's works, often relying on the reader t ...more
Christina Roberts
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I started off an Edward Gorey fan. (I was hooked from the very start by the animation he did for the intro of Mystery!) This is a book full of interviews, the subjects, the content, and the personal details that make Edward Gorey so interesting
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn't even know Frank O' Hara and Edward Gorey were roommates, but this well-researched book was fun for me as a novice Gorey fan. He would have loved 2018.
Brian Umholtz
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was hoping to enjoy this more. Edward Gorey was a private person (and I know the author of this biography did extensive research) but the opening chapters read like fragmented, unbalanced projection on someone the author wanted to see pictured differently. Apparently, Mr. Gorey viewed himself as asexual, but it was obsessively important that we pigeonhole his latent homosexuality into an easily digestible, typical creative stereotype. However, to be fair to Mr. Dery, this is far from a sterile ...more
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Mark Dery is a cultural critic, essayist, and book author who has taught at NYU and Yale. He coined the term “Afrofuturism,” popularized the concept of “culture jamming,” and has published widely, in the academic as well as the popular press, on American mythologies and pathologies. His books include Flame Wars (1994), a seminal anthology of writings on digital
“I tend to think life is pastiche: I'm not sure what it's a pastiche of - we haven't found out yet.” 0 likes
“His day-to-day life was fairly frivolous and lazy and laid-back. It was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a bunch of cats hanging on his shoulders and maybe reading a book at the same time or doing a crossword puzzle.”33” 0 likes
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