cover image Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey

Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey

Lori Mortensen, illus. by Chloe Bristol. Versify, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-358-03368-4

Edward Gorey worked quietly in a publisher’s art department until he began to write and illustrate small, odd books himself. A peculiar blend of Edwardian preciousness and Gothic menace, his creations appalled some and enchanted others. Mimicking, possibly, the over-the-top speaking style for which Gorey was famous, Mortensen (Away with Words) describes his childhood (“And oh, did he read!”), his time in the army and at Harvard (“Who was that ‘tall and spooky’ chap?”), his early career, and the publication of his books. Bristol (the Winterhouse series) does the heavy lifting, duplicating Gorey’s style throughout with remarkable conviction, capturing his long, rail-like human figures, their haunted expressions, and their elegant clothing. She even contributes Gorey-fied drawings of Alice (of Wonderland) and Dracula, illustrating Gorey’s seminal childhood experience of reading the two classics one right after the other. Despite its insistence that Gorey’s nonsense can’t be analyzed (“It would be the height of folly” to take it seriously, he said), the work comes off as a long and self-conscious attempt to explain what made Gorey’s work so singular. Ages 4–7. [em]Author’s agent: Liza Voges, Eden Street. (Mar.) [/em]