The Gashlycrumb Tinies: or, After the Outing
Edward Gorey1963 – Simon & Schuster
I have fond memories of this book but for some reason I was reluctant to make a post about it. Maybe because it is so, um, well, it’s so, Gorey. (Pun definitely intended) It’s one of those guilty pleasure books. You know the kind, the sort of book that you don’t really like to admit liking unless you find someone who admits they like it first. For me Edward Gorey books fall under that category simply because they are a bit macabre and also because I have come to realize you either get his work or you don’t. It’s hard to explain his books, this one in particular, to a person who has never picked one up but if you had to the explanation would go something like this:
“In The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Gorey tells the tale of 26 children (each representing a letter of the alphabet) ………….. and their very untimely, sometimes ghastly, surprisingly awful deaths ….. oh, and did I mention the book is told in rhyming couplets?”
The response to this explanation may be a look of bewilderment or amazement. Granted The Gashlycrumb Tinies is not a conventional alphabet book but it delivers a hilarious journey into the macabre while at least delivering some educational significance. One can see the paradox of Gorey’s work as being intriguing yet morose, hence the category “guilty pleasure”. Should you like seeing illustrations of children in peril? Probably not, but Gorey brings a whimsy to it that makes it palatable. Maybe it’s the Edwardian feel of the text and the dark crosshatch renderings of the hapless brood, whatever it is, I am a fan, and if you’re not faint of heart, perhaps you will be too.
Check out the narrated version .... if you dare!