mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Avast, me heartless! (56, 57-59)

Tales of Terror from the Black Ship by Chris Priestley & David Roberts.

The crab scuttled in,
hiding in his warm, new home.
The sailor's ribs itched.

Well this was a very pleasant surprise, & no mistake. I'd finished my previous book on the train to work & needed to grab something from my stash to tide my over till I started another more sizable project. I grabbed this, which had been lurking in my "looks interesting..." pile for some time. I was a little trepidatious that this would be something more in the Series of Unfortunate Events vein, which I haven't read but have been cautioned against, as some feel the themes of that series would put me off. Brief aside though, Emily Browning was astonishingly pretty in that film, & I really look forward to her in Suckerpunch; alright, enough of that diversion, back on topic. Rather than a sort of vaguely Victorian aura of menace around children, this was rather a much more genuine article. Much more Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark or In a Dark, Dark Room. Since "The Green Ribbon" featured in my wedding, you might note that I have a sentimental fondness for haunted tales for youths. These are not watered down, these are defanged. These are the real deal, the free-range children sort of ghost stories. The frame sequence is slightly meta-fictional, in that it interplays with the text on a few occasions, but it isn't intrusive but rather one of those treats that leaves you fulfilled. So yes. This. I'd read this, & doubly so if I had young larvae I wished to rattle. handstil & heatherica I'm looking at you particularly. This is a series-- there is one of general spookiness that came before, & another that is subterranean & cthonic tales (if that isn't redundant & I'm not repeating myself). This one is, as you might imagine, possessed of a nautical theme. Besides that, the art has a tinge of whimsy that, when I realized I would finish this book on the train as well, let me onward to my next splash of reading...

The Glorious Nosebleed by Edward Gorey.

M is for Malice,
& is rather like Alice;
best snicker-snacking.

...a slew of Edward Gorey. Being primarily visual, his books are more a pairing of clever wordplay & suggestive line art, & just a real pleasure. If they served hors d'oeuvres at the Haunted Mansion, or had a coffee table book at the House on the Hill; well, they'd be done by Gorey. You can see his love of fashion & costumes really popping in the sorts of Gorey books that Glorious Nosebleed is; like the Gashlycrumb Tinies you lurk through the alphabet following along misadventures & what have you. This is purest Gorey, or at least what I think of as Edwardian-as-in-Edward-Gorey; Literary Nonsense at its most pure. This is the sort of thing I associate with him, much as Jabberwocky's sing-song rhyme with Lewis Carrol.

The West Wing by Edward Gorey.

The Black Telephone:
The Gothic Nuclear Codes!
"Raven" has landed.

West Wing is a short story about the Goth President & the Goth Secretary of State trying to come to an important treaty with the Punk delegation. No? No, it isn't that at all. It is a wordless series of pictures, a portfolio of drawings, a gallery of rooms. Each picture presents a view of a location, a mansion presumably, or rather a wing therein. Each is also every so slightly akilter, or well-- some are rather more off of the norm than others. Faint reflections in mirrors give way to poltergeists & haunted candles; abandoned shows cede to mummies & dead bodies. Not to be left out are the shadows, the cracks in the floor, the stains, the odd patterns in the rugs, the vases blending into the wall paper.

The Recently Deflowered Girl by Edward Gorey & Mel Juffe.

Etiquette must reign;
prepare for the occasion
with hammer & quip.

This one I was a little wary of; for some reason I had it in mind that this would be a series of...well, of tasteless rape jokes. I mean, I sort of knew better, but that was a sad background assumption. Rape culture; it wrecks everything. I'm happy to report it isn't anything of the sort, & the axiom of the "advice" takes the deflowering in stride. It was actually fairly charming, & worth paying attention to. The characters are all adults-- you see the fur coats of Gorey's fancy cropping up again-- & there are more than enough flapper haircuts & high hemlines to tickle my fancy. Go go gadget Gorey!
Tags: books, gorey, haiku, priestley

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