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Review of ELEPHANT HOUSE
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
This photographic tribute to the mordantly whimsical Edward Gorey captures the domestic life of an artist and writer who, in Updike's words, "never strayed from his curious, carefully crosshatched corner of sinister nostalgia, yet wound up widely on view." McDermott, a graphic designer and performer who appeared in Gorey's musicals Tinned Lettuce and Amphigorey, was allowed to photograph "Elephant House" just a week after Gorey's death in 2000, and his images open a rare window into the private life of an artist whose work was determinedly fantastical. Black and white photographs of a gray shingle house seen through clambering vines and fuzzy images of a dim library overflowing with stacks of books suggest scenes straight out of Gorey's gothic volumes. But McDermott also includes color photos that reveal Gorey's pleasure in the beauty of little things-the arrangement of blue glass bottles on a sunny window ledge, the setting of cool quartz balls in a stone platter. "Edward loved to 'arrange' things," McDermott explains, and in his hands "pliers became dragons, shears were birds in flight." McDermott's descriptions of his good friend contain many amusing anecdotes (e.g., at one dinner party Gorey dyed each course a shade of blue) and the inclusion of quotations and etchings from Gorey's work help make this book a lovely elegy, one which will surely appeal to Gorey's many fans.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Also see http://www.kevinmcdermott.com/