Monday, October 22, 2007

Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey

Gashlycrumb Tinies

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.
B is for Basil assaulted by bears.
C is for Clara who wasted away.
D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh.

E is for Ernest who choked on a peach.
F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech.
G is for George smothered under a rug.

H is for Hector done in by a thug.
I is for Ida who drowned in a lake.
J is for James who took lye by mistake.
K is for Kate who was struck with an axe.

L is for Leo who swallowed some tacks.
M is for Maud who was swept out to sea.
N is for Neville who died of ennui.
O is for Olive run through with an awl.
P is for Prue trampled flat in a brawl.

Q is for Quentin who sank on a mire.
R is for Rhoda consumed by a fire.
S is for Susan who perished of fits.

T is for Titus who flew into bits.
U is for Una who slipped down a drain.
V is for Victor squashed under a train.

W is for Winnie embedded in ice.
X is for Xerxes devoured by mice.
Y is for Yorick whose head was knocked in.
Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin.
--Edward Gorey

Before I say anything else, I think you should go to this website or this one and look at all the Gorey pictures.

I used to work at the Friends of the Library bookstore in Newport Beach. They had amazing donors among the rich, well educated people that live in that city, so they had an impressive quantity and quality of books donated on a consistant basis. They probably made several hundred dollars every Saturday that I worked, and lower, but still significant totals on the other days of the week. And even with all they sold at the bookstore, they had enough to fill the community room every quarter for their Buck a Bag sale. I loved working there because I had first dibs on any of the amazing things that came through the sorting and pricing room on the days when I worked.

Anyway, I found a copy of Gashlycrumb Tinies, published as an appointment calendar, and thought it was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen. I have a morbid sense of humor that a lot of people around me just don't understand. I don't like realistic violence and killing, but when it's obviously fake, and over the top, I really think it's funny for some reason (see the Die Hard movies for example). I bought the book and put it with the children's books ('cause it's the same size), and Aidan pulled it out one time when he was over visiting. He read the whole thing, but had a very odd, confused, fascinated look on his face as he did so. He asked me what a couple of the words meant, but that was about all the response I got from him about it. I sometimes wonder whether it scarred him for life.

The picture is of Neville who died of ennui. I was feeling Neville's pain yesterday. I got one of those 24 hour bugs that ruin your sense of balance for a while. I couldn't even sit up at church, so Peter drove me home. I slept for a few hours, but then I was done sleeping. There was NOTHING on TV. My head hurt too much to read. I didn't have the manual dexterity or concentration power to work on the handmade Christmas gifts my siblings are all getting. When Peter came back home from church, he slept for several hours. There was NOTHING to do. I was so bored I started thinking about poor Neville, and how it must have been a relief to finally die--it would at least be interesting. OK not really, but I thought it for about a minute before I went and made Peter get up and entertain me with Trivial Pursuit questions.


  1. Alas, poor Neville! Neville's the only one from this that I can remember properly. I shall have to memorize the rest of it.

  2. Hummmm. I can see that it could be disturbing, to an adult, let alone a child.