Reading Gorey with a Small Child
(a short play)
(based on actual events)
(one might say, ripped from the headlines)
Child: Are those bugs?
Child: What are they doing, Mum?
Woman: Uh. Do you want to go watch tv?
Child: Can I watch something sure to offend your sensibilities at any other time?
Woman: Sure, no problem, how about CSI: Miami?
My mother took me to a Gorey exhibit at a local History Museum when I was a teenager, and while I can't remember anything specific, I have a vivid impression of Edwardian woman with sunken eyes and menace. The tango from "Mystery!" loops around in my subconscious. My husband bought this edition for me as a mother's day present (ain't love grand?) and the cycle of exposing children to Gorey in their formative years can continue. In my mother's defense, I was 15. My son's five. Sigh.
Anyway, what a bunch of profoundly unnerving weirdness! There's a paper in here somewhere by those who care to write those sorts of things (you know who you are) about the modern explosion of narrative, how very tiny genre referents can be supplied in sequence, giving the illusion of a functioning plot. Often, the individual panels function as a string of haiku, each wholly contained, orbiting the events of the matter with glancing stillness. It's totally heavy shit, man. Hey, do you want a hit of this?
Anyway, (again) this is probably not for everyone. Gorey has it out for children, and if you can't stomach small, sad looking Edwardian children getting it in diversely horrible ways, then move it along. As a collection, the volume of Gorey's stories in Amphigorey can be alternatively unsettling and boring. The panels blur in a stew of similarly drawn innuendo and omens. Maybe don't read it all at once, certainly not as a bedtime story.