7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #679: Featuring Chloe Bristol

h1 February 23rd, 2020 by jules


If you are a fan of Edward Gorey’s books, you may be interested in Lori Mortensen’s new picture book biography, Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey (Versify), illustrated by Chloe Bristol and coming to shelves in March. Evidently, Gorey would have turned 95 this year.

Mortensen writes in a chummy tone — “Greetings, Dear Reader!” the book opens — with hints of (and tributes to) Gorey’s writing style throughout. She kicks things off in 1925 with Gorey as a child, a “dandy boy who looked out his window, drew sausage-shaped pictures of city-bound trains, and taught himself to read.” She marks his introduction to the books that would eventually change his life — such “quaint and curious” and “dark and disturbing” books as Dracula and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Mortensen briefly covers Gorey’s army stint; time at Harvard (as a “tall and spooky” chap), during which he was unsure what to do with his life; his work in the art department of a book publisher; and, finally, what happened after he put pen to paper and wrote and illustrated his own stories (often writing under pen names that were “Edward Gorey” as anagrams, as pictured below), ones that “mingled sweetness and innocence, danger and darkness, all mixed up with his own brand of silliness.”

The rest of the book includes the kinds of responses he received from readers, both young and old: “No one had ever seen books like Edward’s before.” Mortensen captures his legacy, as well as Gorey’s refusal to tell readers what his stories meant. (After all, as Gabrielle Bellot wrote at The Atlantic in 2018, Gorey “disdained explanation in favor of the playfully irrational.”) Appended to this biography is an author’s note, as well as sources.

This is Chloe Bristol’s debut picture book, and she gets Gorey. Her offbeat, atmospheric illustrations capture the delightful absurdity of both his life and work. It is an appealing biography — for both die-hard Gorey fans, as well as young readers coming to him for the first time. Let’s allow some art to do the talking. …



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


“But Edward liked writing and illustrating stories that made readers uneasy. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and see text in its entirety)


* * * * * * *

NONSENSE! THE CURIOUS STORY OF EDWARD GOREY. Text copyright © 2020 by Lori Mortensen. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Chloe Bristol and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Versify/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Gorey. Always.

2) Finally seeing the Eric Carle exhibit at the Frist Museum in Nashville.

3) A delicious meal and good conversation with friends.

4) This song is currently on repeat for me:



5) Happy surprises in the mail.

6) Good news in the mail.

7) It made me laugh to see the movie Return to Oz trending on Twitter this week, of all the things, because (I think) someone asked, what movie traumatized you as a child? OH YES. The Nome King! And all the citizens of Oz being turned to stone! Gah! I think that movie broke me as a child.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #679: Featuring Chloe Bristol”

  1. Good morning, Imps! Hello, Chloe! Congrats on the debut.

    Jules: I enjoyed the Oz books that I read and thus wasn’t disturbed by Return to Oz because I was familiar with those events from the books!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Opportunities
    2) Seizing said opportunities
    3) Music
    4) Media
    5) Shared interests
    6) Conversations
    7) Notations

  2. Greetings. Love the Gorey book. Need.
    Jules, surprises in the mail is the best..
    LW, always seize the opportunities.
    My kicks:
    1. Prepping for the AWP2020 conference in San Antonio. Am on a panel
    2. Watching the rain this morning.
    3. Tulips.
    4. Hummingbird dive bombers.
    5. Book club tonight: Love and Ruin, the book.
    6. Walking.
    7. Poetry.
    Have a great week.

  3. Ohh Edward Gorey! We had several of his books in the house growing up as my parents were big fans. They had similarly silly funnybones – a favorite wall decoration they adored was a tombstone that simply said “I Told You I Was Sick” – very Goreyesque.

    Jules – yay for seeing the Eric Carle exhibit, good meals with friends and surprises in the mail.

    Little Willow – three cheers for opportunities seized, shared interests and conversations.

    Jone – tulips, hummingbirds, walks, poetry and rain sounds like a lovely week.

    My kicks this week:
    1) An unexpected compliment on my work came just when I really needed to hear some encouragement.
    2) A week of brisk, sunny winter days coming after a month of rain.
    3) Walks in the cold at 2 different parks & getting to see and photograph amazing sunsets.
    4) Getting up early yesterday to go judge a high school mock trial competition. Very fun and got to see some impressive kids in action, as well as catch up with some colleagues I don’t get to see very often during the breaks.
    5) Surprises in the mail – always fun.
    6) Got the voice buttons I ordered for Daisy this week and we have 4 buttons. So far she has clearly identified the “Cookie” button but so far only sniffs it, she hasn’t stepped on it/pressed it yet. I’m excited to see how she progresses.
    7) Prepping for tonight’s watch party for The Outsider.
    7.5) Easy Sunday morning with coffee, music and Daisy. Nice to be inside and warm while it was windy and rainy outside. Still windy here, but sun’s out again.

    Have a great week imps!

  4. Rachel: I cannot WAIT to hear about Daisy’s progress. I will be over the moon if she utilizes those buttons to communicate, but I will also understand if it’s not her preferred method of communication. 🙂 What are the other words you’ve programmed so far?

    Jone: Hi to the hummingbirds!

  5. Little Willow – we have Cookie. Outside. Eat. and Night Night.

    I picked those 4 to start with as we use them daily, so she knows them already, and hopefully it will be easier for her to make the connection with the buttons.

    Part of me is bummed I did not know about this years ago when Cheyenne was still alive, as I have no doubt she would’ve picked it up immediately. I also think she might have driven us crazy with it, so perhaps its for the best I am doing this experiment with Daisy instead.

  6. Rachel: Amazing. Keep us posted. I know what you mean about wishing you had things for previous pets, too. 🙂

  7. Little Willow: I went through a serious Oz phase in middle school and had also read the books, but yikes, something about seeing it come alive on the screen. Yikes again. …. Did you enjoy your time off last week? I hope so!

    Jone: I’d hear you speak on a panel any day. What’s your topic?

    Rachel: Such good kicks! I love the last one, and I also can’t wait to hear about Daisy’s progress. How exciting! I hope you will keep us updated. Love those 1st and 4th kicks too.

    Have a good week, you all!

  8. Jules: Yes, yes, I did. It’s been a productive month so far, and I love when days off fall AFTER a really productive day/week because then I feel as though I’ve earned it!

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