The Willowdale Handcar, or The Return of the Black Doll

The Willowdale Handcar, or The Return of the Black Doll

by Edward Gorey

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Overview

In this enigmatic, surreal, wonderfully entertaining tale, three mysterious figures set out from Willowdale, traveling by handcar. On the way to nowhere in particular they pass a number of odd characters and observe a series of baffling phenomena, from a house burning down in a field to a palatial mansion perched precariously on a bluff.

At once deeply vexing and utterly hilarious, darkly mysterious and amusingly absurd, The Willowdale Handcar is vintage Edward Gorey.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780151010356
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 09/30/2003
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 64
Sales rank: 359,626
Product dimensions: 5.75(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.41(d)

About the Author

Edward Gorey (1925-2000) wrote and illustrated such popular books as The Doubtful Guest, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and The Headless Bust. He was also a very successful set and costume designer, earning a Tony Award for his Broadway production of Edward Gorey's Dracula. Animated sequences of his work have introduced the PBS series Mystery! since 1980.

Interviews

An Interview with Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey's stories and illustrations are quite unlike anything else ever written or drawn, and he's got the personality to match. An intensely private person, Gorey almost never makes forays into the public domain, and when he does, as you'll see if you keep reading, he does little to lessen the shroud of mystery that surrounds him.

barnesandnoble.comYour artistic style brings to mind 19th-century book illustrations (which might contribute to the false rumors that you are dead!). What do you think draws you to this era and sensibility? Why Edwardian England as the setting?

Edward GoreyI suppose so, to all of the above, more or less, he murmured reluctantly, but these are the sort of questions I think are worse than a waste of time to try to answer for reasons I have no intention of wasting more time in even adumbrating.

barnesandnoble.com Your new book, The Haunted Tea-Cosy, is a hilarious, rather dark retelling of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. What inspired this book?

Edward GoreyI was inveigled in several sneaky steps by The New York Times into doing it. Apart from a character named Bahhumbug and the appearance of three spectres, it has nothing much to do with Dickens's Christmas Carol, which I am not sure I have ever read.

barnesandnoble.com Any other Dickens books you would like to illustrate?

Edward GoreySome years ago I came across an anecdote about Dickens I refuse to pass on to anyone, and I haven't read anything by him since.

barnesandnoble.com What other classics would you like to work on that you haven't?

Edward GoreyThere are all sorts of classics I could possibly illustrate if asked, but as I have over the years accumulated too many of my own texts to have any chance of doing drawings for but a few of them, I would only do something by someone else if I was offered an outrageous sum of money, and maybe not then.

barnesandnoble.com Any classics you would refuse to do?

Edward GoreyFor example, Jane Austen and the Marquis de Sade, although for different reasons.

barnesandnoble.com The themes of your books often explore the darker side of life or impending fate. Most of your characters contemplate things dreadful, or often dead. Are you preoccupied yourself with the notion of fate? What inspires these notions in your work?

Edward GoreyI think my books are about nothing, and I don't see why Flaubert felt it would be so difficult. Otherwise, refer to my answer to the first questions above.

barnesandnoble.com Your drawings are instantly recognizable as "a Gorey." How would you describe your own style?

Edward GoreyTrue, even by me; however, I hope I don't have one. Quentin Crisp said style was a terrible thing to happen to anyone, and I couldn't agree with him more (Nancy Spain).

barnesandnoble.com I love your use of obscure literary references and multilingual word games as adjuncts to your drawings. Do the drawings precede the prose or vice versa?

Edward GoreyThank you. One's first duty is to entertain oneself. The complete text, prose or verse, comes first, or there would never be anything but a couple of stray uncaptioned drawings.

barnesandnoble.com The Haunted Tea-Cosy is your first commercially published book in a decade, but you have been very prolific in the meantime, especially in theater. Tell us a little bit about some of your most recent theatrical projects.

Edward GoreyI won't even begin to try. Besides, they are confined to somewhere or other on Cape Cod on a couple of weekends every now and again during the year.

barnesandnoble.com Who do you think your books appeal to? And do you have an audience in mind when you write your books?

Edward GoreyI am aware of individuals who like my books ranging from quite small children to persons older than myself, but I have no picture of an audience as a whole, or for that matter parts, and I certainly have no one in mind, not even me, when I write.

barnesandnoble.com Are there any particular artists or authors who most influenced your inimitable style?

Edward GoreyThere must be hundreds; I would not know where to begin. Besides, I suspect the greatest are from people I have never thought of in that way.

barnesandnoble.com Do you have some favorites among your hundreds of drawings and books?

Edward GoreyI loathe them all equally, or would if I ever looked at them -- which I never do unless I have to for some extraneous reasons.

barnesandnoble.com Are you a fan of any televised cartoons or animated films today?

Edward GoreyI adore Ned's Newt, one of the truly great loopy series, really not for the tinies at all but for people of more than a certain age who spent almost all of it watching B movies. At the moment Fox runs it Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30am. Yes, A.M. --not perhaps the best time of day for taking in no-stop split-second morphing accompanied by brilliantly silly and recherché one-liners.

barnesandnoble.com You work brings to mind the dark genius of Alfred Hitchcock. What are some of your favorite Hitchcock movies -- or other movies?

Edward GoreyNow here is a question I could go on and on and on about for hours on end, but I suppose I had better not. As it happens, re Hitchcock, possibly my favorite movie is "The Lady Vanishes.". Otherwise, let me mention some names: Feuillade (rush out and get "Les Vampire"), Naruse, Clouzot, Franju, Lang (the German films), Keaton, Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Louise Brooks, Lillian Gish, George O'Brien, and so forth and so on. To show I still go to the movies, if only infrequently, "Babe: Pig in the City."

barnesandnoble.com What inspired you to illustrate T. S. Eliot's beloved Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats?

Edward GoreyThere is that word again. The publishers asked me. It was amusing but not easy to do because Mr. Eliot did not have to bother with any consistent view of his protagonists.

barnesandnoble.com Have you seen the musical "Cats"? If so, what did you think?

Edward GoreyNo. If I had, I don't know that I would have been able to do the drawings.

barnesandnoble.com You are said to have perfect attendance at the New York City Ballet from 1957 to 1982. Would you say that attending performances is one of the greatest things you miss about New York now that you have moved to Cape Cod?

Edward GoreyYou joke, yes? The only thing. I disliked New York the first time I set foot in it, and for the 30-odd years I was there, at least part of the time, I told myself I was only passing through.

barnesandnoble.com Do you listen to any particular music when you draw and write?

Edward GoreyI usually listen to music while I work, but I have wildly eclectic tastes (with gaps), and it is probably chosen from whatever CDs I have not got around to yet, which I fear now number in the hundreds.

barnesandnoble.com Do you see your work taking any new directions in the future?

Edward GoreyI only see what I happen to be working on at the time, and other things I have jotted down bits and pieces of to pick up at a later date, if there is one.

barnesandnoble.com What are you most interested in pursuing now?

Edward GoreyTheater in general, and puppets in particular. But who knows if and when something entirely unthought of will get my attention. I don't.

(And a question of my own.)

Edward Gorey Why did you answer these questions?

Edward GoreyIt is, as a dear friend once wrote years ago in a context I no longer remember, "a question perhaps only Philadelphia can answer."

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The Willowdale Handcar: Or the Return of the Black Doll 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
D_MacGowan More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Edward Gorey, and I think this is his best work.
RossVanDerH More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely delightful. Full of off-kilter, ominous humor, it's a must for Gorey fans or any readers.