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Monday, December 14, 2009

Tim Burton is an unusual man

I've always liked Tim Burton. Since I was about four years old. Before I had a concept of what a director was or that he was doing things I enjoyed, I'd reguarly watch them and love them. He does something wonderful that taps into the magic of life that I will be always be envious of.

But I was just reading The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, which I bought for Eric recently. It came out over 10 years ago, so its not anything new, but I just finally got around to it. It's a compilation of flash fiction, very short stories written in rhyming prose.

It is a very very unusual book. I don't even think I mean that in a bad way. He captures the simplicity and vulgarity of being the troll in the fairy tale with an unnatural ease. He's able to cast beauty on on things that aren't, but his stories and drawings are still occasionaly offputting.

The title story is perhaps the most disturbing thing I've read. It's written in rhyming poem, and its perhaps five or six pages long.

But in the story, a couple fall in love, get married, and after eating oysters, they conceive a child. While initially excited, the child turns out to be half boy/half oyster, with his head being in the shape of a clam. They are horrified and they're marriage crumbles. The wife wants to work on their marriage and copulate with her husband, although neither of them want anything to do with the child, and try as he might, the husband can't perform because of the stressors of their disfigured son.

They go to see a doctor, and the doctor suggests that eating oyster is an aphrodisiac. So, in the middle of the night, the husband goes into his son's room and asks him if he's sad and wants to die. The son says nothing at all, and the father pries open his head, and eats the oyster part of him, this killing his son.

He takes the body out, buries it by the sea, sheds "three" tears, and writes a "rest in piece" type eptipah in the sand before hurrying home to his wife. The tide comes in, washing away the message and memory of the boy.

The husband and wife are able to have sex, and the final line is the wife saying they should try again, but this time for a girl.

I'm pretty sure that Tim Burton's parents eitehr hated him, or he just thought they did. Almost all the stories about children that are disfigured or otherwise unlovable for one reason or another.

So yes, he is a very unusual man.

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