Born To Be Posthumous by Mark Dery

I was as surprised as anyone when I was listening to the Virtual Memories Show to learn that one of the most well-known, yet enigmatic artists of the twentieth century had never had a biography written about him. He rarely gave interviews and public appearances, and his close circle of friends and acquaintances were as baffled by the man as the general public, yet we all recognize his work from illustrated T.S.Eliot books that were turned into Broadway musicals, the opening titles to Masterpiece Mystery, and the entire careers of Neil Gaiman, Terry Gilliam, Lemony Snickett and Tim Burton. Being a Massachusetts native, and a man whose mother lived a five-minute walk to Gorey’s house, and a rabid lifetime fan of his work, I absolutely needed to read this book. 

Mark Dery knew his responsibility and took it very seriously. Over five-hundred pages of extensive research, capable and intriguing prose, and a fun outlook on the man, his life, and his work brings him to life once again. I enjoyed every page of this book. Dery’s incessant deep-dives into Gorey’s childhood, life, and loves are just as intriguing and obsessive as his analysis of his work, his outlining of the rare public appearances, dispelling rumors, and beautiful existence of a truly creative and original American. Simply put, Dery not only filled the gap of Gorey biography and scholarship but wrote the only book needed to explore the life and work of such a notable artist. This was simply one of the best biographies I have ever read, and I attribute that to the autodidacticism I feel I must share with the author and his approach to telling the story of a great man. A wonderful book I will certainly revisit again.

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