Book Review – The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy by Tim Burton

books, reviews

melancholydeath5_star_rating_system_4_stars1 Up until yesterday, I was only reading Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Billy Bryson. Up until the point I stopped kidding myself that I would finish it for today. Given the fact that I’ve fallen asleep reading it every night since I started it, it was never going to happen. But, as we know by now, I’m pretty delusional when it comes to my reading goals. So it took a while for me to admit defeat. Stubbornness can be useful in certain situations but sometimes it can make life difficult. Like forcing me to find a quick read to finish in one night. Normally, that would involve me buying a super small book during my lunch break. But, as I’m still trying (and failing) to stick to my book buying ban, I decided that this time I would go back to one of the books on my shelf that I have already loved but never reviewed. A collection of poems, in fact, that I’ve owned for years and adored. I loved it so much that I’ve gifted it to a few friends and I’m the kind of person that doesn’t normally force my bookish loves on my unsuspecting friends.

I’m a fan of Tim Burton. I can’t remember how old I was when I first fell in love with his films but I’ve been a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas for as long as I can remember. But, considering how terrible my memory is, that doesn’t mean much. It could have been yesterday. Anyway, coming across a book of poetry written by the man who wrote that story was a dream come true. The aforementioned memory means that I, again, have no idea when I first bought this collection but I’ve read it so many times that it was definitely a while ago. This book never ceases to bring me joy. It is a truly Tim Burton collection of poems. Even if it might not even be the most revolutionary collection.

If I’m being extremely picky, on this reading I found the use of rhyme and metre a little dodgy. The rhymes don’t always work, which is fine in theory but, considering the simplistic nature of the rest of the poems, it kind of sticks out. A lot of the poems follow a fairly standard and straightforward metre which means it does stick out when it loses its way a bit. But, really, the poems are incredibly readable and a lot of fun. They aren’t really poems written to be technically interesting but should be considered short stories with rhymes. They are digestible little narratives that open the reader up to a remarkable world. Most of the 23 are tiny little bursts but there are a couple of longer pieces that really let Burton’s imagination come through.

All of the poems in this collection are typically macabre and grotesque. The stories revolve around outcasts and strange children. All of the creatures we meet have something weird about them that makes them stand-out from the crowd. Most of the time their stories end tragically but there are a few characters who manage to embrace their difference. The illustrations are amazing and really bring these crazy bunch to life. Burton has a unique style and these poems really capture that. They’re funny, strange, and an absolute joy to read. It won’t keep you going for very long but the time you spend with the Oyster Boy gang will be time you won’t regret.

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