Before moving digs to Britain I read The Other Statue by Edward Gorey as a welcome break to packing. I’m very good at taking breaks from the activity I should be focusing on. For example, I am writing this post when I should be editing a true crime manuscript. A friend said the other day, ‘Sometimes I feel like work gets in the way of a good break,’ and I tend to agree. I always get everything done on time but it takes a lot of ‘rests’ to get me through (and the occasional cup of coffee and late night).
The break from packing had more to do with trying to avoid thinking of what I was about to embark on. I kept getting teary every time the radio played a song with the word ‘home’ in it, which I’ve discovered is a surprisingly large number of tunes, and I needed something to distract me. I thought Gorey’s usual kooky themes and dark whimsy would cheer me up, and add a little spring to my step as I decided which socks to include in my suitcase.
Instead I found The Other Statue somewhat unrealised and rather disappointing. My understanding is that it is part one of a mystery and I haven’t read part two (in fact I’m not sure it was ever published), but part one of a story really should encourage a person to want to read the next instalment, shouldn’t it? Perhaps it was just the funny old mood I was in at the time, though previously I would have thought a funny old mood was just the spirit in which to read a Gorey story.
In the end I found it a kind of Gorey paint by numbers: take a melancholic tone, some quirky illustrations, a handful of funny names, and odd pairings of people and objects and throw it all at the page. Not that I’m a Gorey expert by any stretch but to me it seemed a somewhat random collection of sentences added to some spare illustrations he had lying around. Perhaps it’s unfair to judge a book I read as an avoidance tactic, and during a big upheaval, but for me The Other Statue lacked the heart and purpose of Edward Gorey titles I have previously had the pleasure of reading. Next time I need to procrastinate I’ll just re-read The Gashlycrumb Tinies.