“Funny Peculiar,” by Joan Acocella. The New Yorker, 12/10/2018.
This is about the cartoonist, Edward “Ted” Gorey. You will probably recognize his unique and spooky style from his illustrations introducing PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery. Gorey died in 2000 at age 75. He was tall and thin, bald, with a full, bushy white beard, and dressed in an Edwardian style like an exaggeration of his cartoons: massive, floor-length fur coats dyed in vivid colors and turtlenecks, several massive rings on each finger, jeans, and low-cut Keds.
He was gay, but that was not the center of his life. (Dressed like that?) He said of himself, “I am fortunate in that I am reasonably undersexed or something. . . . I suppose I’m gay, but I don’t really identify with it much.”
He was a child prodigy and graduated from Harvard, alternating between the dean’s list and academic probation. As a mature adult, he lived in NYC about half the year while the NYC Ballet was performing, the rest in Barnstable, on Cape Cod, in his cousin’s attic room.
On the shore a bat, or possibly an umbrella,
Disengaged from the shrubbery,
Causing those nearby to recollect the
Miseries of childhood.
[I formatted it as a poem. The original was in prose, in a book of cartoons, one line per page. –RW]