This week is quickly drifting into the weekend, which must mean it’s time for First Line Friday! Each week I grab a book from my shelf (or from wherever it’s wandered off to) and share the first line or so. They might be quotes from my TBR pile or an old favorite or even a book I’m not particularly fond of.
This week’s first line peels back the curtain on the macabre.
Edward Gorey was born to be posthumous. After he died, struck down by a heart attack in 2000, a joke made the rounds among his fans: During his lifetime, most people assumed he was British, Victorian, and dead. Finally, at least one of the above was true.”
If you don’t know Edward Gorey, then you know someone whose work he’s influenced. As sinister as they are hilarious, Gorey’s books manage to somehow be both niche and mainstream with their unsettling pen-and-ink illustrations and wicked rhymes. Yet for most of his life, Gorey himself was an eccentric enigma— he spent his time attending operas in a full-length fur coat or at home with his vast library and six cats. Now, in Born to Be Posthumous, Mark Dery pulls back the not-quite-Edwardian curtain and examines the life and work of the strange genius.
And Dery opens at the end: Gorey’s death, which seems appropriate for a man who spent most of his life thinking and writing about the subject. Sure, it wasn’t as macabre of a death as being “assaulted by bears” or being “done in by a thug”. But Dery relays a joke that made the rounds shortly after Gorey’s fatal heart attack, and it was one that he probably would have found just as amusing.
Title: Born to Be Posthumous
Author: Mark Dery
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: November 06, 2018
Classification: Biography, Nonfiction