Books

Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Genius and Mysterious Life of Edward Gorey

Gorey, who died in 2000 at 75, was the unequaled master of—of what? Gothic whimsy? Camp macabre? Existential black comedy in the Firbankian mode? Essentially unclassifiable, he was, at the end of the day (and it’s always twilight, in Gorey’s stories), simply, inimitably Edwardian. His influence reverberates in the novels of Lemony Snicket and Ransom Riggs, the movies of Tim Burton and Guillermo Del Toro, the fashion of Anna Sui and Kambriel, the graphic novels of Alison Bechdel, Sue Grafton’s bestselling “Alphabet Series” of mystery novels (inspired by Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies), the annual Edwardian Ball (an exercise in steampunk-goth cosplay inspired in part by Gorey’s work), and the fantasy lives of numberless fans who would live, if they could, in his obsessively crosshatched, amusingly lugubrious little worlds.

 

 

I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts

A drive-by critique of an America gone mad, and a world where chaos and catastrophe are the new normal, by the cultural critic Wired called “provocative and cuttingly humorous.”

 

The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium

Terrorists, tabloid media, and Xtreme culture: To many, America seems like an infernal carnival, equal parts funhouse and madhouse—a “pyrotechnic insanitarium,” to borrow a turn-of-the-century nickname for Coney Island. Are we on the eve of an Age of Unreason?

 

Escape Velocity

Wannabe cyborgs, machine-sex junkies, punk roboticists. Poised between Tomorrowland and Blade Runner, the digital fringe poses the fundamental question of our time: Will technology be used as an engine of repression or a tool of empowerment in the coming millennium?

 

Flame Wars

Afrofuturism! Technopagans! Brain-jackers! Amok robots! An African-American cleaning woman reincarnated as an all-powerful cyborg! Before Wired, before the Web, there was Flame Wars, the mind-ripping anthology of essays on digital culture that launched the discourses of Afrofuturism, cyberfeminism, and cybersex studies.

 

Culture Jamming

No fashion-forward Anti-Corporate Rebel wants to be caught dead at the next Reverend Billy protest without a copy of the manifesto that started it all. Buy into the anti-consumption craze that’s becoming the lifestyle choice of the radical chic!

“Culture jamming,” a term Dery has popularized through articles in The New York Times and Adbusters, is media hacking, neo-Situationist sociopolitical satire, and guerrilla semiotics, all in one. Media hoaxers, billboard bandits, pirate broadcasters, fan-fiction authors of “slash” stories, makers of video mash-ups, and other vernacular media wrenchers who intrude on the intruders, hijacking ads, newscasts, Hollywood movies, and other mechanisms of social control and repurposing them to politically subversive or perversely personal ends, are all culture jammers.