Relatively few people had the opportunity to visit the enigmatic Edward Gorey in his home, and among those who did, even fewer were permitted to see the entire house. This kind an openhearted man was also a private man, usually preferring the company of his cats to that of his two-legged acquaintances.
But much about Gorey was revealed in his environment. His house in Yarmouthport, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, was filled with his multifarious collections of objects, from books and bottles to finials and rings, stuffed animals and rocks. He arranged his clutter in an order that made sense only to him.
In "Elephant House: Or, The Home of Edward Gorey," Kevin McDermott elegantly documents in rich duotone and full-color photographs this chockablock house, room by room, just as Gorey left it when he died in April 2000. With each picture we obtain new insight into a man whose prolific creative genius was fed as much by his keen intelligence as by his flights of whimsy and absurdity. We are startled by the simple beauty of his arrangement of blue glass bottles in a library window. In noticing that his kitchen counter is almost completely covered by an arrangement of rocks, we wonder how he managed to entertain guests with a home-cooked dinner of all-blue food. And we linger over the picture of his desk, imaginging him at work there; it is such a small desk, blotted with ink (of course!) and crowded with pens, rubber stamps, a ruler - and a black old-style dial phone.
Elephant House may be the most intimate portrait of Edward Gorey ever published. McDermott's reminiscences and descriptions of the house accompany his engaging photographs, and more than a dozen of Gorey's etchings and drawings of elephants - never before published - are paired with quotes from the artist. Through this portrait, Edward Gorey becomes even more the man we all wish we had had the chance to meet, an artist whose brilliant and hilarious art and words will continue to charm and delight us for generations to come.