Review: The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Short Stories by Tim Burton

From breathtaking stop-action animation to bittersweet modern fairy tales, filmmaker Tim Burton has become known for his unique visual brilliance — witty and macabre at once.

Now he 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 the tragedy of these dark yet simple beings — hopeful, hapless heroes who appeal to the ugly outsider in all of us, and let us laugh at a world we have long left behind (mostly anyway).


Take poetry, add Tim Burton, and you have awesome! OK, I might be bias because I love a lot of Tim Burton’s creations even though I haven’t watched all of them, but it’s hard not to once you get a taste of his art. Sure the poetry in this case isn’t complex, the stories are short, and the majority are thoroughly morbid as so many other readers would point out, but it’s a fun book nonetheless and I’m glad I found it.

No matter how bad in taste some of the stories are and how many have children or babies with defects (like Robot Boy for instance), The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy is hilarious. Twisted, macabre, and just screwed up, I still found it funny and wonderful, while also being sad at times. I don’t know what that says about me, but I also don’t care.

These are some of the very non-cryptic titles to paint you more of a picture – The Boy with Nails in His Eyes, The Girl Who Turned into a Bed, Stain Boy, Jimmy The Hideous Penguin Boy and it pretty much goes on like that. Those titles state basically what does happen, but the pictures add to the stories by fleshing them out, and giving them some dimension. In some cases I think a lack of images would make the stories fall rather flat. Not that the tales by themselves wouldn’t express and evoke some sort of emotion completely, but it really is a case of two types of art complementing each other.

I think it goes without saying that a lot of Goths at heart and Tim Burton fans would get a kick out of this book, but I also believe it would make a quirky little collector’s item to have on a book lover’s bookshelf.

  • Genre: Short Stories – Poetry
  • Demographic: Tim Burton fans and readers with a darker sense of humour
  • Rating Out of Five: 4*
  • Format: Hardback
  • Find At: The Book Depository
  • Published: 2002

4 thoughts on “Review: The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Short Stories by Tim Burton

    • Poor Robot Boy, being mistaken for a tin can… I love the Mummy boy with his Mummy dog. So cute.

      I can imagine the stories would be a pretty good source of inspiration for poetry.


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