Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey

Written by: Edward Gorey, Karen Wilkin

Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey Book Cover
Edward Gorey's extraordinary and disconcerting books are avidly sought and treasured throughout the world, but until now little has been known about the man himself. While he was notoriously protective of his privacy, Gorey did grant dozens of interviews over the course of his life. And as these conversations demonstrate, he proved to be unfailingly charming, gracious, and fascinating.
Here is Gorey in his own words, ruminating on everything from French symbolist poetry to soap operas, from George Balanchine and the unique beauty of ballet to Victorian photographs of dead children. We meet the artist in his ramshackle, book-lined studio in Manhattan and his equally bizarre house on Cape Cod. He describes his legendary upbringing and vast range of influences, as well as how he managed to work amid all his cats. Ascending Peculiarity is a rare and wonderful entree into the inner workings of an artistic genius.



Includes reproductions of previously unpublished drawings and photographs
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Ascending Peculiarity Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey Reviews

Linda
Some of the interviews repeat information (and most of it is very elemental - he started drawing at 1 1/2, his first drawing was of sausage-shaped railroad cars, he taught himself to read at 3 1/2, he attended nearly every performance (evening and matinee) of the New York City Ballet for 10 years...), but you glean at least one nugget of new information from each one. Since I love Gorey, it was fun to read more about his actual life, but after reading this, I'd rather read his actual work.

Great Some of the interviews repeat information (and most of it is very elemental - he started drawing at 1 1/2, his first drawing was of sausage-shaped railroad cars, he taught himself to read at 3 1/2, he attended nearly every performance (evening and matinee) of the New York City Ballet for 10 years...), but you glean at least one nugget of new information from each one. Since I love Gorey, it was fun to read more about his actual life, but after reading this, I'd rather read his actual work.

Great for Gorey fans or those who want to see a few of his drawings to get a feel for his style.
Cheryl
This biography is essentially made up from various interviews that Gorey gave over the years. It gives an interesting impression of him. There was a lot of repetition, but I think that helps to explain the sort of person he was. There is a part of me that wants desperately to give him a diagnosis, but it doesn't really matter. He was unique. Given his art and writing that shouldn't be a surprise. This would be a good one for someone curious about the artist. Makes me really want to visit his hou This biography is essentially made up from various interviews that Gorey gave over the years. It gives an interesting impression of him. There was a lot of repetition, but I think that helps to explain the sort of person he was. There is a part of me that wants desperately to give him a diagnosis, but it doesn't really matter. He was unique. Given his art and writing that shouldn't be a surprise. This would be a good one for someone curious about the artist. Makes me really want to visit his house on Cape Cod which has been turned into a museum.
Natalie
I've always loved Gorey's art. As a young child I would watch Mystery on PBS just to see the opening credits (done by Gorey).

I didn't know much about the man behind the artwork until this book. I admire his art even more now. Eccentric, intelligent, talented, and quite entertaining.

The only complaint is, because of the nature of compiling interviews, many questions and information is repeated. However, that's interesting as well. You can see how his perspective changed (or didn't) on important I've always loved Gorey's art. As a young child I would watch Mystery on PBS just to see the opening credits (done by Gorey).

I didn't know much about the man behind the artwork until this book. I admire his art even more now. Eccentric, intelligent, talented, and quite entertaining.

The only complaint is, because of the nature of compiling interviews, many questions and information is repeated. However, that's interesting as well. You can see how his perspective changed (or didn't) on important matters in his life.

Bookends :: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea :: The Female American; Or, the Adventures of Unca Eliza Winkfield :: The Oresteia: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides :: Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems: Networks of Plausible Inference
Tyler
Although a bit repetitive at times this collection of abridged interviews gives a unique view of one of the oddest 20th century author/illustrators. Gorey was a fascinating man who was very generous with his views and information in himself (well, for somethings, especially what he read and viewed). A collection of interviews is a better way to get to know a man like Gorey than any kind of biography. Highly recommended for Gorey fans and those who enjoy conversation with intelligent oddballs.
Karen
I've always been intrigued by Gorey's work (though I've hidden some of my copies so my boys don't accidentally stumble across The Gashlycrumb Tinies and think it's a children's book) and I found this a very interesting read, what with his eccentric style, his hatred of Henry James, his adoration for cats, and obsessive consumption of both high and low culture (he read virtually everything, saw thousands of movies, was addicted to the NYC ballet for years, while still finding time to be engrossed I've always been intrigued by Gorey's work (though I've hidden some of my copies so my boys don't accidentally stumble across The Gashlycrumb Tinies and think it's a children's book) and I found this a very interesting read, what with his eccentric style, his hatred of Henry James, his adoration for cats, and obsessive consumption of both high and low culture (he read virtually everything, saw thousands of movies, was addicted to the NYC ballet for years, while still finding time to be engrossed by Dallas, the X-files, and even the Golden Girls).
HeavyReader
When I saw this book on the shelf at the library, I thought it Edward Gorey's autobiography. I guess it is in a way, but isn't really after all.

It's a collection of interviews that Gorey gave throughout his life for a variety of magazines. It was an ok book. A lot of the interviewers asked the same questions, so the reader gets a lot of the same stories over and over again.

It was an easy read, illustrated with Gorey's own art. Probably not something for someone not already a hardcore Gorey fan o When I saw this book on the shelf at the library, I thought it Edward Gorey's autobiography. I guess it is in a way, but isn't really after all.

It's a collection of interviews that Gorey gave throughout his life for a variety of magazines. It was an ok book. A lot of the interviewers asked the same questions, so the reader gets a lot of the same stories over and over again.

It was an easy read, illustrated with Gorey's own art. Probably not something for someone not already a hardcore Gorey fan or someone writing a paper about him and his work.
Redsteve
Enjoyable, but a bit repetitive in places - which is understandable when you consider that it is actually a series of interviews with Edward Gorey on various periodicals and radio/TV spread out from 1973-1999 - the same questions get asked/answered a bit. Before reading this, I had no idea what a major ballet fan he was, which makes me feel rather oblivious, considering the number of books he did that centered around ballet (The Gilded Bat, the Lavender Leotard).
Mike
Collecting various interviews with Gorey over the years, this just ends up feeling like the same conversation repeated over and over again. Did you know he went to all of the performances of the New York City Ballet one year? Did you know he had a lot of cats? Probably not worth it unless you're some kind of ultra-obsessive. (The parts where they get him talking about silent movies are pretty good, though.)
Sherry
It is said that true genius can relate things in a simple way. This collection of interviews with Edward Gorey proves that point. Interspersed with some of his drawings, he answers questions from interviewers in a simple way that reveals his complexity. For instance, he admits that he collects books, and he tosses in references to ideas that only the most well read would recognize. A very eclectic and, yes, a peculiar person!
Michelle
I cannot say anything here that will accurately describe my feelings toward this biography. I am not typically a biography person, but my love of all things Gorey compelled me to take the leap. It has been well worthwhile every time I've read it. Such an amazing book about such an amazing, eccentric, talented man. Gorey is the one man I wish I had met before his death, and this was nearly as good as having a conversation with him.
Maggie
edward gorey is a very interesting person and this is a very interesting book.
i would recommend it to anyone interested in gorey and his books. at first i was skeptical about it being a book of interviews but i was actually very pleased with the format, many things were repeated, which is unavoidable with a collection of interviews, but it was in no way boring or too repetitive.
Gail
A collection of interviews with Gorey, sparsely illustrated by some of his drawings. The reader gets a picture of a recluse unwilling to become a celebrity, but one who quite deliberately does odd things with no attempt to disappear from view. Much of the material is repetitive, which is inevitable given the nature of the book. This is mildly interesting but has little substance.
Yvonne
Edward Gorey is/was such a particularly his-own-person kind of person. I love his eccentricities and environment, his friends and his reading. Needless to say, I also "love" Gorey's works. I quote "love" because there are times when I wonder just how evil is this guy, and how evil am I for enjoying reading him!
Megan
i love edward gorey, but most of these interviews were repetitive and wore thin after a while. i get it, it's a collection of interviews, and there are bound to be themes gone over and over, but maybe the editors could've been more selective in their choices.

the selection i enjoyed the most was his words on cats. quirky and humorous, like the man himself, and not boring.
Allen Perry
I so enjoyed this book. It gives an interesting insight into the mind of an enigmatic genius. If you like Gorey and want to better understand him I highly recommend this and the book "Elephant House" which contains pictures of his home taken just after his death. The two give I sight into the character of a man even more interesting then the strange little books he produced.
Judy
I've enjoyed Edward Gorey's drawings and books. I've visited the Cape house where he last lived. He loved cats and the NYC ballet. I came away from reading the book feeling sorry for creative people who just want to do their thing but when they become well known are hounded with questions about the basis for their work. It seems disrespectful and intrusive.
Cynthia
loved it so much! I've always been a fan of his books, and I feel like I can appreciate them more knowing the creative energy behind such dark fables. Also, Mr. Gorey has now made me feel perfectly okay about hating Henry James. Ha ha!
JL
A collection of interviews given by Gorey to a variety of magazine outlets. While there is quite a bit of repetition between some interviews, it provides a clearer picture of Gorey as an artist and as a person. Very interesting if you're a fan of his work.
Judith
Edward Gorey is a fascinating character but I prefer to speculate about him
rather than to delve into his secrets. I only read one of the selections (the
New Yorker one) and closed the book. Gorey should be allowed to remain
enigmatic.
Kirsten
An engaging book of interviews and articles about Edward Gorey. He was a truly weird individual! I would've liked more of his artwork, but it was great to have a look into the psyche of one of my favorite illustrators.
Christiana
This book of interviews was exceptionally interesting. I don't know quite why I liked it so much, but I read it straight through while drinking cup after cup of coffee and imagining how nice it would be to fashion habits like the strange ones of Edward Gorey.
Zaiga
Falling in love with Edward all over again. Too bad he's dead.
Melusina
A thoroughly lovely and insightful book, full with witticisms and oddness of the Master of weirdness and quirkiness. Enjoyed every page of it.
Amanda Library
For anyone who wants to know more about the elusive Gorey, this is just the ticket! Very interesting interviews and articles.
Elizabeth
This is an entertaining set of interviews. There tends to be a good bit of repetition that gets tiring toward the end though.
Pearl Yusuf
George, I'll be getting this to you soon. Great for Gorey fans!
Abby Turner
Gorey is very interesting. The interviews did get a bit repetitive tho.
Elisabeth Wallace
Really enlightening look into the man behind those ominous little etchings. I was surprised at how gentle and unassuming he is revealed to have been in these interviews.
Atticus
Gorey is charming, but clearly not a happy interview subject.
Sara
Edward Gorey is so damn cool. I like that this book is basically a collection of interviews so it's really him, not someone's interpretation of him.
Jessi
I wish I could have met Gorey before his death. He was such an intelligent, kind-hearted, fascinating man.
Olivia
If you like Gorey, this will be a great deal of fun. My greatest complaint is that, as it is a collection if interviews, it was often redundant and therefore tedious. The ability to skim is critical.
lindsey dee
i had no idea edward gorey was so obsessed with ballet! i'm admiring him more and more the more i read.
Seth
It was okay, but I just wasn't interested enough in the subject. Didn't finish.
J.T.
Just visited the Edward Gorey house in Cape Cod and re-fanned the flames of my admiration for this amazing man.
Mary
A very good read. Different interviews with Edward Gorey, giving insight to who he was as a person and artist. There were some redundant questions, but overall worth reading.
Cody
Actually, this is a collection of interviews, but I feel it fulfills the function of a biography. It's certainly as close as we'll get with EG.
Jaredmackley
I love Edward Gorey. This book showed a me a little more about a very strange and eccentric man.
_paegan_
I enjoyed this insight into one of my favorite minimalist authors.
Beth
Interesting and entertaining, but not much else to say. Felt a bit disjointed, and I don't really have a better understanding of Gorey. Although, I think he'd be glad about that.
Kristin
Fabulous read for any Gorey fan. Really provides insight into the artist's view of the world and his part of it.
Rachel James
You need this. If you care about Gorey at all, it's a must.
Ernie Dixon
I couldn't ask for more. A superb look into the life of one of my favorite artists.
Marian Ferguson
The anthology nature of the book makes for a good deal of repetition of information, but in sum an engaging portrait of a fascinating man.
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