Friday, April 02, 2010

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories

Writen and illustrated by Tim Burton
Published by Harper Collins Publishers, 1997

The imagination that has penned the pages of this book has created a dark and splendid treasure: a rare find. I suggest if you have not purchased a copy, you go and do so now. The stories are written in metric verse throughout. The tales are bizarre, at times even disturbing and at other times humorous. Tim Burton introduces us to a collection of strange children and creatures that are accepted by neither their parents nor the world around them because of their unusual characteristics, which plague them throughout their rather short lives.
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy is a painful, tragic tale of two parents who find themselves positively horrified by their child. They do not like the inhuman ‘half-oyster’ that is in the way of their perfectly normal lives – he is totally rejected by both of them and finally destroyed by them. This is my favourite poem and the longest in the book.
The book contains some very funny stories, however many of the stories told have a darker and sadder aspect to them. These little rejected outcasts are heartbreakingly lovable. There are few happy endings; the shadows that hover over each one, envelops them in the end. That physical abnormality that sets them apart as being different eventually conspires to destroy each one. In the story “Roy the toxic boy” we see him being put outside by well meaning people to get some fresh air, however it is the sun outside, the natural air that finally kills him! Other stories include “Stainboy” in his early beginnings, “Mummy boy” and “Stare girl”.
The illustrations have a tender simplicity that animates these odd little characters in the mind’s eye as you read the verses. The verses themselves are set in a distinctive typeface; ‘Scripps College Oldstyle’ designed by Fred Goudy, which complements the poetry perfectly.
The hardback black cloth covered book is embossed with gold lettering and protected by a beautiful paper dust jacket. I have shown a small sample of the drawings from the book with this review but the images here do not do the originals justices, which are drawn in fine ink pen and printed on the wonderful creamy paper.
You can see a glimpse of one of the poems by looking at Robot Boy in the flash section of the site.
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