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Makes Economic Sense, If Nothing Else...
Edward Gorey

If for no other reason than cost-efficiency, you ought to buy this collection of the late Edward Gorey's books; it doesn't cost very much more than  any of the individual hard-cover original editions of the fifteen books collected here.

Most people will recognise Gorey as the designer of the credits for the long-running PBS series "Mystery!", if nothing else; but he is so much more.

If i were forced to guess, based strictly on the contents of the fifteen volumes collected here, i would have had to say that Edward Gorey was obviously an elderly and somewhat dotty Englishman. As a matter of fact, he was neither elderly nor English -- but that's the type of material he excelled at; that somewhat macabre but utterly devastating straight-faced black humour that seems to a Mere Colonial such as myself as Utterly British.

One could, for instance, question whether the untimely demise of twenty-six children -- in alphabetical order, with lovingly-rendered illustrations of their antepenultimate moments -- was a fit subject for humour. Whether or not it is becomes a moot question almost as soon as one begins reading The Gashleycrumb Tinies:

     "A" is for ANNA, who fell down the stairs.
     "B" is for BASIL, assaulted by Bears...

Sick or not, if you can read all twenty-six pages of this little monograph and not laugh, there is something wrong with you.

Possibly the best thing in the book -- though it's all excellent -- is The Unstrung Harp, or, Mr Earbrass Writes a Novel, which has been described by an acquaintance who works as an editor at a major New York publisher as one of the more accurate portrayals of the process he has ever read. {Horrifyingly so, i inferred from his comments.}

Rather gentler and more restrained and cultured than the work of Gahan Wilson, a bit less anarchic than "The Far Side", this is still a wonderful antidote to all of society's little hypocrisies and refusals to face the reality of the gleeful darkness that every one of us has (generally fairly well) hidden somewhere in our soul.