"That versatility is one of the most interesting things about Gorey. While today we associate him with macabre commonplaces like “B is for Basil assaulted by bears” or remember him as one of the names on the bookshelf of your high school chum who wore black lipstick and introduced you to Joy Division, he was also quite highbrow in both his work and personal tastes, and found critical success throughout his career for more Surrealist-minded works like The Object-Lesson, which was inspired by Samuel Foote’s poem, “The Grand Panjandrum,” and Japanese Haiku.
The mostly self-taught Gorey had a unique imagination, and he exercised it in his works. Looking at some of his darkly comical and sometimes downright homicidal works, it’s clear he shared much with contemporaries like Jim Henson and Shel Silverstein. Their work was often nominally geared toward a younger audience, but appealed to an older crowd. But Gorey was also peerless in many ways, an American eccentric who liked fur coats in a way that Rick Ross would have appreciated, pairing them with Chuck Taylor high tops to wear to the New York City Ballet. Even though, as A.N. Devers points out in her piece on Gorey’s coats for The Paris Review, he eventually started to feel bad for wearing dead raccoons and left his estate to charities that served animals, many of us still think of fur coats when we think of Gorey.”
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