The Cleft and Other Odd Tales

The Cleft and Other Odd Tales

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by Gahan Wilson
     
 

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Gahan Wilson is one of the masters of macabre cartooning, ranked with Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, and Gary Larson. He is also a masterful storyteller. From the horror of "blot" to the gentle unease of "Campfire Story," from the classic oral-horror style of "The Marble Boy" to the science fiction scares of "It Twineth Round Thee in Thy Joy," the collection in

Overview

Gahan Wilson is one of the masters of macabre cartooning, ranked with Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, and Gary Larson. He is also a masterful storyteller. From the horror of "blot" to the gentle unease of "Campfire Story," from the classic oral-horror style of "The Marble Boy" to the science fiction scares of "It Twineth Round Thee in Thy Joy," the collection in The Cleft and Other Odd Tales shows Wilson at his very best.
Originally published in Playboy, Omni, and notable anthologies such as Again, Dangerous Visions, Wilson's short fiction is gathered here for the first time. The 24 stories are each accompainied by an original, full-page illustration done especially for this volume.
Gahan Wilson has won two World Fantasy Awards and the Bram Stoker Award for Life Achievement. His most recent cartoon collection is Gahan Wilson's Even Weirder. His latest CD-ROM is Gahan Wilson's The Ultimate Haunted House.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
Kirkus Reviews
Wilson (Everybody's Favorite Duck, 1988, etc.), the master cartoonist of the macabre, returns with 23 chuckles in the dark, plucked from Playboy, Omni, and elsewhere, covering the last 35 years or so.

The primary attraction of the collection are its many illustrations, black pen-and-ink works reminiscent of Beardsley's illustrations of Faust, although the writing here and there approaches the level of S.J. Perelman (especially in "The Casino Mirago"). One of the more bizarre moments is the story named well, it has no name, only a black blob for a title—a blob that could be a cat's paw fresh from the inkwell, perhaps, or a coal-black pear that keeps growing like a Rorschach blot throughout the story. Just what is it? Well, it's carnivorous—but we're not saying another word. The (new) title piece tells of a narrow mountain cleft that leads up to a monastery. Only one person at a time can pass through it, so anyone who wants to go up or down must ring a warning gong. The gongs require care, however, and soon a huge Kafkaesque retinue is needed to tend them. "Campfire Story" describes some boys listening to a story so scary that some of them might not live through it. In "The Power of the Mandarin," only Evan Trowbridge stands between the malevolent Mandarin and his conquest of the world—and the storyteller Aladar Rakas has allowed the Mandarin to kill Trowbridge, Pillar of the Establishment and Pride of the Empire. Now who's going to fight the diabolical Mandarin in this series? Why not Aladar Rakas himself? But Rakas (the author) finds himself going mad, because—with Trowbridge dead—Rakas (the hero) keeps getting into fixes the author can't get out of. The thriller grows to massive length (matching Margaret Mitchell's masterpiece) and the Mandarin threatens to turn the horrified Rakas into a garden ornament. Will the evil humor slithering through these pages slurp off into real life?

Unclean, unclean! Read at your own peril.

From the Publisher

"A collection of meticulously eccentric stories. The illustrations are definitely the icing on this devil's food cake of a book."--The New York Times

"Genuine weirdness combined with wit and intelligence."--Stephen King

"Stories whose weird wit matches that of his drawings. Wilson writes in a straightforward, intelligent, anecdotal style that present an amusingly sinister look at humanity. In "the Breaks,' 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. "--Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466870543
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
05/06/2014
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,220,334
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Gahan Wilson divides his time between Los Angeles and Long Island, New York. His writings and cartoons are included in such titles as Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons, Still Weird, Nuts and The Big Book of Freaks.


GAHAN WILSON is an author, cartoonist, and illustrator. His cartoons have appeared in Playboy, The New Yorker, Gourmet, Punch and The National Lampoon. Fifteen individual collections of his work have been published, including Is Nothing Sacred? Playboy's Gahan Wilson, The Man in the Cannibal Pot, and and then we'll get him! Wilson has also written and illustrated a number of children's books, including the adventures of Harry, the Fat Bear Spy. For adults, Wilson has written two mystery novels, Eddy Deco's Last Caper and Everybody's Favorite Duck, and short stories which have appeared in Playboy, Omni, The Magazine of Fantasy&Science Fiction, and numerous anthologies. Other projects include graphic novels adapting the works of Ambrose Bierce and Edgar Allan Poe, a set of trading cards featuring Wilson's demonic baseball players, and his first animated work, a cartoon short, "Gahan Wilson's Diner," released by 20th-Century Fox.

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The Cleft and Other Odd Tales 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent collection of short stories, with a unique style of writing, different in flavor for each story. Among the best twists in short stories that I've come across. 'The sea was wet as wet could be' is an excellent continuation of Lewis Carol's 'Walrus and the carpenter', and 'hansel and gretel' another excellent follow-up. 'The cleft', 'Casino mirago', and the story with a spot as it's name are brilliant. The cartoons are just superb in kicking off a visual scene.