Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Edward Gorey's Bats


In the past, we have briefly mentioned Edward Gorey and particular books we have had for sale that were written and/or illustrated by him. While he was alive, Bromer Booksellers published two miniature books written and illustrated by him, and we are always excited when new Gorey items come in because we are fascinated by his macabre sense of humor and unique illustrative style.

Some of our favorite Gorey items are the bean bag toys. The Goreyana blog has an interesting series of posts about Gorey's "Stuffed Creatures," which fall into three categories: those created and sewn by Gorey himself, those designed by Gorey and produced commercially, and those sewn by fans based on Gorey's creations. We have had items that fall into the first category in the past, such as figbash dolls, which Gorey used to sew at his Yarmouthport home while watching the soap operas he loved. We currently have an example of a commercially produced Gorey design in this Bat, which was distributed by Toy Works in 1980 as part of a series of characters designed by Gorey.

The bat is made of fabric printed with Gorey's typical cross-hatching that creates areas of lighter and darker shadows across the bat's body. The wings are sewn to simulate the finger bones in real bat wings, and the body is stuffed with beads. As a final touch, the eyes are created with red rhinestones.


As denizens of the night and associates of its more supernatural dwellers, bats appear frequently in Gorey's work. They are flying in the background of his illustrations, and his distinctive bat wings are prominent in The Gilded Bat, a book about the rise and fall of a ballerina, and in the stage production of Dracula he designed. A bat motif runs throughout the set decorations and costumes, and Dracula's cape itself has the appearance of bat wings. Gorey himself even supported Bat Conservation International Foundation, an organization that protects and restores bats and their habitats.

Since his death, Gorey's bats have proliferated, appearing as jewelry, stamps, wallpaper, clothing, tattoos, hanging mobiles, and more. Clearly, Gorey's love for and interest in bats has transferred to his fans through his work. We hope you find Edward Gorey and his work as fascinating as we do and keep an eye out for new Gorey items on our website, bromer.com.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

E-catalogue 32: Rhyme & Verse

As we make our way through our reading life, we encounter poetry in many forms, from simple nursery rhymes to the verses we memorized because they spoke to us in some profound way. In our latest e-catalogue, we are highlighting examples of the many ways a poem tells itself.

Simple verses for youthful ears is best exemplified by Robert Louis Stevenson, an edition of whose A Child's Garden of Verses can be found among the 36 works on offer. It is from Stevenson that we have come to refer to sleep as "The Land of Nod" and who memorably personified the "little shadow that goes in and out with me." But as Lewis Carroll showed, verses need not be simple -- or have many recognizable words -- to resonate with a young audience. As a nonsense poem, The Hunting of the Snark carries forward some of the language and figures from the many memorable poems in Alice in Wonderland -- going so far as to reuse portions of "Jabberwocky" in the Preface.

Format also influences the way in which poetry exerts its expressive influence. Consider, for instance, the planning that is evident in Carol Blinn's Blue Water, Yellow Balls: this visual and verbal homage to David Hockney is accompanied by eleven drafts of the poem that her original watercolor image inspired. Similarly, we learn that Leonard Baskin selected Tennyson's poem about Tiresias after spending time exploring the myth and creating the illustrations for what would become one of the Gehenna Press's most elegant books. There is gravitas, too, in the smallest books of verse: among the miniatures that can be found at the very end of the catalogue is an illustrated edition of the first English poem for children intended for sheer amusement, The Butterfly's Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast.

Where a poem brings its readers is of considerable importance. One of Frost's memorable lines about the mystery of composition speaks of his "initial delight...in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew." We read poetry for similar reasons, which is why we remember such turns of phrase as "A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse -- and Thou" from that paean to earthly pleasures, The Rubaiyat; why we sense a loss of great magnitude when Whitman speaks of a time "(w)hen lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd"; and feel a frisson of mortality when Shelley speaks to us of "(t)wo vast and trunkless legs of stone" standing in the desert.

In poetry, form, format, and language combine to say something with resonance. We hope you find something here that resonates with you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bibliography Week 2013

The Typographic Book, 1450-1935
in a designer binding by Elizabeth Greenhill
Bibliography Week will be taking place in New York City this year between Tuesday, January 22nd and Saturday, January 26th. What started out as the period of time when many of the major organizations devoted to book history had their annual meetings has grown to include a full week of lectures, exhibitions, and gatherings for all bibliophiles.

Bromer Booksellers will be exhibiting at the Booksellers' Showcase on Wednesday, January 23rd between 10:30am and 4pm. Free and open to the public, the Showcase is being held in the Parish Hall of Christ Church Methodist at 520 Park Avenue. We hope you will come by and visit with us while viewing a selection of items chosen especially for Bibliography Week.

For more information about Bibliography Week events, go here. To see a complete list of booksellers participating in the Booksellers's Showcase, go here.