The Cleft and Other Odd Tales

Gahan Wilson, Author Tor Books $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-86574-0
Though he's better known for his darkly funny cartoon grotesqueries than for his short stories, Wilson has written numerous tales whose weird wit matches that of his drawings. In fact, an aptly odd original illustration accompanies each of the 24 stories--many previously published in Playboy or genre magazines--in this collection, which traces Wilson's writing career from 1962 (""The Book""; ""Phyllis"") through 1998 (""The Cleft""). Wilson writes in a straightforward, intelligent, anecdotal style that presents an amusingly sinister look at humanity. Many of the stories are first-person narratives told in distinctive character voices, varying from the boyish breathlessness of the graveyard classic ""The Marble Boy"" to the cattily feminine purr of ""Best Friends."" In ""The Sea Was Wet As Wet Can Be,"" perhaps the book's most chilling tale, Wilson combines Lewis Carroll, the vapid lives of the well-to-do and genuine horror with impressive originality. There is a strain of social satire in many of the stories, as members of the upper classes often meet unusual--and decidedly unpleasant--fates. In ""Them Bleaks,"" Wilson describes a certain ghoulish item as ""a macabre object, without doubt, but it undeniably had a peculiar kind of charm."" The same can be said of this collection. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 333 pages - 978-0-312-85291-7
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4668-7054-3
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