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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
A collection of short stories by Matthew C. Woodruff, 26 Absurdities of Tragic Proportions explores the characters displayed in the illustrations by Edward Gorey. The chapters delve into the backstory behind each of the characters portrayed in The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Maria and her daughter move to Sienna, Florida, to open a B&B, but her grand plan doesn't work out as she thought. Eight-year-old Basil travels back 250 years using his mother's time machine, causing trouble for his mother, only to end up in woods surrounded by wild animals. Ida's obsession with mermaids leads her to search for an old catfish in the lake, resulting in the inevitable. A kid named Titus steals a package that turns out to be a bomb placed by the IRA.
Filled with humor and irony, 26 Absurdities of Tragic Proportions deftly showcases the fragile nature of life and the unpredictability of death. Matthew C. Woodruff's tales are short, surreal, and tragic, adding layers of depth to the characters portrayed in Gorey's illustrations. The stories are set in various eras and diverse environments, and although they differ in tone, every single one of them contains aspects of the surreal and the absurd that culminate in death toward the climax. The narrative sails smoothly and feels well-paced. I particularly enjoyed the stories involving the characters of Ernest, Fanny, Ida, Kate, Leo, and Prue. Matthew C. Woodruff's 26 Absurdities of Tragic Proportions primely highlights characters from Edward Gorey's work. I will highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys short stories.