The Gashlycrumb Tinies
and the Companion Stories '26 Absurdities'
In 1963, prolific illustrator and author Edward Gorey (February 22,1925–April 15, 2000) published an alphabet book so grimly antithetical to the very premise of the genre — making children feel comfortable and inspiring them to learn — that it took the macabre humor genre to a new level. “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,” The Gashlycrumb Tinies begins. “B is for Basil assaulted by bears. C is for Clara who wasted away. D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh…”
Part Tim Burton long before there was Burton, part Edgar Allan Poe long after Poe, the book exudes Gorey’s signature adult picture book mastery, not merely adorned by the gorgeously dark crosshatched illustrations but narratively driven by them.
What is it about this masterwork that has kept our attention for a half-century despite condemnation that it is far too dark?
Matthew C. Woodruff
In 2018 Woodruff took on the arduous but incredibly fun task of writing the companion stories to the illustrations in the Gashlycrumb Tinies. Woodruff said in an interview, "It was like the Spirit of Edward Gorey was whispering these tales into my ear..."
With sardonic wit and complete irreverence, Matthew Woodruff proves he is one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Woodruff is a master of dark humor and satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.
This is a humorous gumbo of literary influences from Charles Dickens to Charles Addams, from Edgar Allan Poe to Steven King, and from Lemony Snickets to Jean Shepherd, but with a comedic voice unique to Mr. Woodruff as well. This gruesomely hilarious alphabet will delight Edward Gorey fans, for sure, as well as any others who frequent the darker side of comedy.