Bicycle Diaries: <i>The epileptic bicycle</i>

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The epileptic bicycle

and a Goreyorgraphy

This children's story by Chicago native, Edward Gorey, is about the adventures of two mischievous children and a mysterious bicycle. Their naughty nature leads them to exhibit several characterisitics, such as in-fighting and cruelty to animals. After several adventures, they meet an untimely demise. Yet, many questions remain: where did the bicycle come from? What did it represent? What was the purpose of the obelisk? Why did Emily and Yewbert die?

These mysteries and their symbolism are intriguing concepts for Gorey's readers. His work defies easy classification. He is typically described as an illustrator, but this merely scratches the surface. His combination of words and pictures has led some to classify him as having been a cartoonist.

Others regard him primarily as a writer who drew, or an artist who wrote. His books can be found in the humor and cartoon sections of major bookstores, but books like The Object Lesson have earned serious critical respect as works of surrealist art.

His endless formal experiments - creating books that were wordless, books that were literally matchbox-sized, pop-up books, books entirely populated by inanimate objects, etc. - complicates matters still further, not to mention the thorny issue of whether his books are best classed as literature for children or for adults. As Gorey told interviewer Richard Dyer: Ideally, if anything were any good, it would be indescribable.

Though now a cult figure, Gorey never sought it. As he told the Globe in 1998,
When I think of other things that attain cult status, they strike me as somewhat feebleminded. I mean, I suppose it's better being a cult object than nothing at all. But I don't see how anyone has time to be really famous. I might get people dropping by who are slightly -- unhinged.

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