NONFICTION

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

Little, Brown. Nov. 2018. 512p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316188548. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780316451079. BIOG
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In this biography, cultural critic Dery (Flame Wars;{amp}nbsp;Escape Velocity) portrays writer/artist Edward Gorey (1925{amp}ndash;2000) as convivial and chatty but also uninterested in allowing most people to get to know him. Dery doesn't go very far beyond Gorey's outer layer, nor does he seem to have a particularly deep or passionate knowledge of his subject's works, devoting many pages to his own opinions and those of other critics instead of Gorey himself. The author is also obsessed with the question of whether Gorey was gay or asexual or both. This question is never answered, and it's unclear whether it would tell us much about Gorey as an artist anyway. In general, nothing new or revelatory is presented for those already familiar with Gorey, though much-needed attention in the last few chapters is paid to his late-life work with puppetry and local theater on Cape Cod.
VERDICT Gorey aficionados will inevitably want this book. Others will do better by starting with Ascending Peculiarity, a wonderful collection of Gorey interviews and profiles, edited by Karen Wilkin. [See Prepub Alert, 5/14/18.]

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