A Book Review of Tim Burton’s “The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories”July 4, 2021
What is there to say about Tim Burton, a man who creates so many weird stories that you wonder which world he lives in? Well there’s plenty of things to say really. We could probably pick at the guy all day. There’s his diversion from film to illustrated stories for instance. To sum it up After I finished reading it I was reminded of post modern art movements that revolve around things like Garbage cans, pencils and other crass and common things.
That is if it had a head on collision with the surrealist movement; so much so that the objects themselves were animated and personified in a weird cross over with real life literotica. A cross over that blurs in its boundaries So its more of a strange narrative car crash than a “Picasso” of ideas and style.
Things like a personified stick and his love for a hot red headed (also very alive) matchstick. Children with heads of brie and other weird things. That’s the sort of thing you find in Tim Burton’s one to two page stories. After all its called “The Melancholy Death of ‘Oyster Boy’ and other Stories.”
It is a good read however. It is well written and well constructed Probably because Tim Burton is in his element of weirdness, and the simplicity of such stories can be hard to mess up. The whole book could be read in a very short space of time. It is a children’s book that contains (or at least written in the style of a children’s book ) a series of stories and anecdotes. The longest story is as the title says about Oyster boy and runs past eight pages. Which will feel long in this book.
The illustration does deserve some attention Though. because it is rough, simple and upon first glance you might feel ripped of. But it is all part of the style. That’s how Tim Burton draws and that’s how it is meant to look. Just look at some of his earlier film concept art, and you will see the same thing.
Those rough lines and harsh to vivid shading might appear in-expert, but they highly emphasize the black tone and the child like nature of these stories. After all they are children’s stories about children. They just also happen to be about horrible misfortune, murders, apathy, terrible ends, misanthropes and a – dash of sex – or at least a relevance to actual sex.
Yes the bedrock themes are often grisly and dark. Because there is an overlying perversity in not all but most of the stories. A perversity Which is greatly strengthened by the fact it’s in the style of a children’s author. An author who’s probably once removed from Edward Gorey and not too distantly related to Roahl Dahl.
Also there is an Anarchy of morality that isn’t clear cut. It isn’t so much black, white and grey but Just sharp grey with hard dark black. Any “white” or colour in the book just accentuates no justification for it. Whats right or morally balanced isn’t really addressed here. This can leave you feeling a little lost.
And then there’s the obvious problem with audience. It’s style is very child like but completely in-appropriate for children. Its themes are perfect for adults accept its style isn’t. The only one its appropriate for are kids above the age of 14 years.
So to finish if your a big kid (the kind that enjoyed the morbid part of life) Well your probably already a Tim Burton fan and would like this book. But it’s not really a lasting book to re-read. Expect a book that’s good in small doses The tales are brief and each is a small injection of black humour and shock that is enough to give you a sufficiently enjoyable morbid daze. (no it isn’t like drug use)