tis the season…

Have a taste for the macabre*? Then you have a copy of Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

To be honest, I inherited my copy from Sean, but I claim proud ownership of it just the same. Why ever for? because it is a delightful little alphabet book, and who doesn’t find those absolutely charming? Dr. Seuss’s ABCs was a long running favorite in our house–ok, it still is.

For every letter of the alphabet is the story of child and his or her untimely death told in rhyming couplets. Y is for Yorick whose head was knocked in; Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin. Each letter child gets a page. And to heighten the enjoyment of the text, there are Gorey’s exquisitely ominous black & white illustrations.

Many (like the two above) you can feel the weight of Portend. F and X give me chills every time.

A few depict the After. I find K a bit much…

Do not overlook the front and back covers of the book, especially in light of the “or” on the title page, “or, After the Outing.” There is that added horror that perhaps these were no mishaps or accidents. The dark skeletal figure looming over these darling children, with his neighborly smile. Perhaps he is merely there to collect his own, out for a stroll gathering up his dead chicks; which is not any less disturbing to my mind.

Needless to say, The Gashlycrumb Tinies or, After the Outing needn’t be seasonal fare, but it is delectable this time of year. And if you’ve just met someone and invited them over, leave this on the coffee table. You’ll either have a friend for life with which to trade books, or they’ll make a quick exit and you won’t have to figure out how to make them ever leave.


If you like The Gashlycrumb Tinies you will very likely enjoy The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy by Tim Burton.(thank you, Logan, for the connection in the comments.)

The Gashlycrumb Tinies or, After the Outing by Edward Gorey
Harcourt Brace & Company, 1963.

macabre (ma·ca·bre) : Pronunciation:/məˈkäbrə, -ˈkäb/: adjective

Disturbing and horrifying because of involvement with or depiction of death and injury:a macabre series of murders

Origin:  late 19th century: from French macabre, from Danse Macabre ‘dance of death’, from Old French, perhaps from Macabé ‘a Maccabee’, with reference to a miracle play depicting the slaughter of the Maccabees

~Oxford English Dictionary

Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

14 thoughts on “tis the season…

  1. I’ve long wanted to own this book, but the reading is “enjoyable,” if one can use that word for this type of book. Have you read Tim Burton’s “Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy”? It’s rather similar to the “Gashlycrumb Tinies.”

    1. Melancholy Death keeps Gashlycrumb Tinies company on the shelf. It is similar, and lovely. I should update the post with a “if you like this, you’ll enjoy this”… maybe I should do a post on it as well? unless you have or want to Logan, I would gladly link yours. thanks for coming by.

      1. I definitely see the relationship strong between these two books, and Oyster Boy would easily fit the RIP challenge. I have no review and don’t intend one anytime soon, so by all means.

  2. Isn’t it K is for Kate who was felled with an axe?

    My sophomore year in college my roommate Amy and I hung up the Amy and the Kate from the Gashlycrumb Tinies in our dorm room, possibly on our door instead of the name tags. I was proud to introduce them to her; she loved them; we’re still best friends to this day. We have the same sense of humor.

  3. I adore Edward Gorey. I was thinking of getting one of his books as a present for myself on my birthday and by extension as part of the R.I.P challenge. This one is great. I’ve read it before, but it needs to be much more securely part of my life! 🙂

  4. I have seen this reviewed elsewhere and it looked intriguing then, but I forgot all about it. Must look into this while it is still fresh on my mind!

  5. I love Gashlycrumb Tinies!
    I had them as a calendar once, and I’ve read the book so many times I’ve got it memorized. My favorite is N for Neville who died of ennui

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