Floating Worlds by Peter F. Neumeyer
The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer

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I’ve gushed on here before about the amazing work of Edward Gorey, but one thing that is hard to come by is autobiographical texts about the enigmatic man...to get Gorey to talk about himself, what he thought about, what he felt at any given time was not a easy task.
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Synopsis

Edward Gorey and Peter Neumeyer met in the summer of 1968. Gorey had been contracted by Addison-Wesley to illustrate Donald and the . . . , a children’s story written by Neumeyer. On their first encounter, Neumeyer managed to dislocate Gorey’s shoulder when he grabbed his arm to keep him from falling into the ocean. In a hospital waiting room, they pored over Gorey’s drawings for the first time together, and Gorey infused the situation with much hilarity. This was the beginning of an invigorating friendship, fueled by a wealth of letters and postcards that sped between the two men through the fall of 1969.

Those letters, published here for the first time, are remarkable for their quantity and their content. While the creative collaborations of Gorey and Neumeyer centered on children’s books, they held wide-ranging interests; both were erudite, voracious readers, and they sent each other many volumes. Through their discussions of these books, one marvels at the beauty of thoughtful (and merry) discourse driven by intellectual curiosity.

The letters also paint an intimate portrait of Edward Gorey, a man often mischaracterized as macabre or even ghoulish. His gentleness, humility, and brilliance—interwoven with his distinctive humor—shine in each letter; his deft artistic hand is evident on the decorated envelopes addressed to Neumeyer, thirty-eight of which are reproduced here.

During the time of their correspondence, Peter Neumeyer was an assistant professor at Harvard University and then a professor at Stony Brook University in New York. His acumen and compassion, expressed in his discerning, often provocative missives, reveal him to be an ideal creative and intellectual ally for Gorey.

More than anything else, Floating Worlds is the moving memoir of an extraordinary friendship. Gorey wrote that he felt that they were “part of the same family, and I don’t mean just metaphorically. I guess that even more than I think of you as a friend, I think of you as my brother.” Neumeyer stated, “Your letters . . . your existence has made something of this world that [it] hadn’t the possibility of before.”

 

About Peter F. Neumeyer

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EDWARD ST. JOHN GOREY (1925 2000) is famous for the honored bounty of books he wrote and illustrated, featuring his distinctive humor and astonishingly detailed crosshatch ink drawings. Creator of more than one hundred works, Gorey also was a successful contributor to theater from Cape Cod to Broadway; his production of Dracula on Broadway garnered two Tony Awards (Best Revival and Best Costumes). He is also well known as the creator of the animation images in the PBS series Mystery! Peter F. Neumeyer (b. 1929) is the author, editor, or translator of more than a dozen books of prose and poetry for children and adults. His collaborations with Edward Gorey include Donald and the . . ., Donald Has a Difficulty, and Why We Have Day and Night. He resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
 
Published September 15, 2011 by Pomegranate. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Floating Worlds
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by Luke Goldstein on May 30 2014

I’ve gushed on here before about the amazing work of Edward Gorey, but one thing that is hard to come by is autobiographical texts about the enigmatic man...to get Gorey to talk about himself, what he thought about, what he felt at any given time was not a easy task.

Read Full Review of Floating Worlds: The Letters ... | See more reviews from Blog Critics

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Karen Wilkin on Sep 17 2011

"Floating Worlds" offers special insight into his books' complexities and allusions. No Gorey fan will be able to resist this collection, but it's difficult to imagine that anyone would be immune to its verbal charms. If nothing else, it provides a great reading list.

Read Full Review of Floating Worlds: The Letters ... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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