Goreyography Reviews

Gorey Secrets

Malcolm Whyte

Foreword by
Peter F. Neumeyer

Published by University Press of Mississippi
November 2021

176 pages
92 color and black and white illustrations
ISBN 9781496831552

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For more information visit University Press of Mississippi

Reviewed by Glen Emil,
copyright 2021 Goreyography

16 December 2021      Special to Goreyography

The idea that a computer's memory is so fragile, everything it stored, on disk or chip, everything we put into it, could be lost and useless if its memory index file is damaged or erased. Gone, at the snap of a finger. But relief can come in the form of rebuilding that memory index file using clever CRC/ECC algorithms, and hopefully, all those files once lost, even though they actually never left, can be found again. All those pictures, briefs, essays, notes, observations, work plans, videos, spreadsheets, songs, short stories, rants and raves, come back to life. But for people, memory access is spontaneous, less direct, and much less organized. Eventually they are lost, forever.

That's why I look to Malcolm's Whyte's latest book on Edward Gorey, to help rebuild the indices into Gorey's memories, and into some 23 of his books.
I realize reading second-hand postulates about their origins is one thing, after all what Gorey did with his pen and inks and condensed plot lines transcend literal translation, and whether or not they were connected to actual people or events, didn't matter. Gorey's books are artistic performances. Before Gorey Secrets, I accepted all of Gorey's memory indexing and connections to faces and events - his inspirations, were lost to time. His emotional impetus, the key to moving all these moments and ideas onto paper, couldn't possibly be documented.

Except for the emotions Gorey wanted us to feel. That was his goal, I believe, and more often than not he succeeded. Tied to circumstances Whyte relates around Gorey's The Iron Tonic is deeply heartfelt, all the more so as I am going through similar experiences as I write this. The Beastly Baby titillates all the more after reading Alison Lurie's (1926-2020} account, and remembering her retelling her influences on The Curious Sofa on Cape Cod in 2008 (she and Edward shared many laughs reading Victorian-era erotica at a Boston library). Actual memories. I am also relieved that some of the same stories Andreas Brown (1933-2020) used to retell for me are preserved in Whyte's book, thankfully preserving them in print. Memories I feared were gone forever, are now, not.

Get Gorey Secrets, add it to your collection, if you want to save, and imagine, a piece of Gorey's personal history for yourself. A little bit of context never hurts. Ever.

"My CoCo is my silicon mentor,
My coach, my dominie.
My tutor, my teacher and professor,
No mortal preceptor could be."

-- original Edward Gorey rhyme and illustration,
HOT CoCo magazine, December, 1983

In memory of Edward Bradford (1937-2020)

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