I picked up The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy (and other stories) a few months back when there was a sale on at my work. I really enjoy Tim Burton and pretty much anything he’s ever done, so I was guaranteed to like this. I’d also heard a lot about it around.
Title: The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories
Author: Tim Burton
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Short Stories
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 18th November 2004
Summary : Twenty-three illustrated gothic tales from the dark corridors of the imagination of Tim Burton. Burton – the creative genius behind Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Nightmare Before Christmas, among others – now gives birth to a cast of gruesomely sympathetic children: misunderstood outcasts who struggle to find love and belonging in their cruel, cruel worlds. His lovingly lurid illustrations evoke both the sweetness and tragedy of these hopeful, yet hapless beings.
The novel itself is a series of short stories about unique people told in prose. It explores love and loss and being an outsider. Most stories are about a new character, except we meet a few of the same a couple of times throughout. It really does put a smile on your face when the same character crops up after 50 pages.
One of the strongest things about this collection was the illustrations that went along with it. They fit perfectly with the stories and the tone they were told in. The drawings are cartoonish and have a sketchy feel to them, my favourite kind of art work. Without the drawings the stories would not have the same impact at all.
One stand out story for me was ‘Stick Boy and Match Girl In Love’ which highlights the dangers of love in a physical sense. ‘Voodoo Girl Girl’ was also clever and a nice representation of feelings on to paper, I feel like that truly is Tim Burton’s talent. My favourite story however was probably ‘Sue,’ the story of a woman who has an addiction to sniffing glue. I have not laughed that much at a short piece of fiction before.
The main theme that is explored within this is the idea of everyone is unique, and everyone has something about them that makes them different. It’s a perfect idea for a collection of prose. Each character is unusual, far past the realms of possibility and it really showcases Tim Burton’s amazing imagination. While I was reading I wished that I could come up with weird and wonderful stories such as these.
I should say that I’ve seen this categorised as a children’s prose collection. It is not. Its fiction, occasionally horror but it is definitely not for children to read. The stories themselves are mainly about children, however it explores sex and drugs often. It is subtle, and small children would not understand the references, but I would definitely say it is not a children’s collection.
If you enjoy prose, quick reads and unique stories, I cannot think of a reason for you not to pick up The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, it really is a perfect read.