The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories

Stars: ★★★

Author: Tim Burton

Year: 1997

Country: USA 

Genre: Poems – Black Humour



Fictionworms is back with more of Tim Burton! Not to review his most famous works, but one of those which remain unknown for many people. I’ve recently talked about his short film Vincent, now it’s time for his book of poems titled The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories. As you may have realised already, these poems are full of the author’s usual black humour, which is even blacker here since the protagonists of the poems are kids.

Written in verse and illustrated by Burton himself, the stories in this book are all about weird and lonely characters, mainly children. Being so different from everybody else brings them a sea of troubles, makes them miserable, and sometimes even finishes with their lives in a tragic destination.

People who are fond of black humour will probably enjoy this book very much. Those who are not, on the contrary, may find some of the poems extremely cruel. I did, for example, when I read The Boy with Nails in His Eyes, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and James. I guess the titles of the first two say enough and there’s no need for further explanation, but I’m going to write the two-lines-lenght James to illustrate what I’m saying.

“Unwisely, Santa offered a teddy bear to James, unaware that

he had been mauled by a grizzly earlier that year.”

That is, at least for me, macabre in excess, twisted and horrible. Nonetheless, there are other poems in Burton’s book which, being more “innocent” and less cruel, I came to like pretty much. Some of them are Staring Girl, The Girl with Many Eyes, and my favourite Sue.

“To avoid a law suit,
we’ll just call her Sue
(or “that girl who likes
to sniff lots of glue”).

The reason I know
that this is the case
is when she blow her nose,

kleenex sticks to her face.”

Although it’s not the first time I have seen something like this (e.g. Edward Gorey wrote and illustrated similar poems), we can’t deny Burton’s creativity. His fans will love the book, and the rest of the people may have varied reactions to it. They may admire it. They may be horrified by it. Or the two at the same time.


– Written by GuadiRC –


10 Responses to The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories

  1. Pingback: Books – The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories | Glutton for books, movies & series

  2. Ben says:

    I haven’t read a poem except Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. I don’t why maybe because it took me time decoding the message. I can’t seem to appreciate them.

    Nice review BTW

    • fictionworms says:

      I don’t read many poems either, and it’s true what you say. Sometimes it takes so long decoding the message that one doesn’t enjoy the poem very much. BTW, did you get the message of The Raven? I read it the other day and I guess I only understood it because I had an idea by what Tim Burton says about it in Vincent. And the fact that it is written in XIX century English makes it even more difficult :/ But I love the way it sounds, anyway.
      Thanks for passing by! Your comments are always very enoyable 🙂

      • Ben says:

        I don’t know the message. Poems like these presents too much ambiguity. Was he trap? Who represents the Raven?

        Yes I like how it sounds, especially when the Raven quote, “Nevermore”.

        PS: Well, you’re posts are quite interesting. I can’t help myself to post. 🙂

    • fictionworms says:

      Now I’m analysing The Raven more carefully, looking up unknown words… when I get the message clearly (or I think I do) I’ll let you know! 🙂

    • fictionworms says:

      Yeah, I was going to do the same, but I wanted to try on my own first… anyway, that webpage explained it pretty well, so, thank you! 🙂

  3. I love Tim Burton! He’s one of my favorite movie directors. And I enjoyed reading this book hahaha.

  4. fictionworms says:

    When I was about twelve or thirteen years old I used to love Tim Burton as well. Now I don’t like him that much, but I can’t deny he has a very well defined and original style 🙂

  5. I still like him very much. I like the dark imagery in his movies. I love his style 🙂

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