Picks and Pans Review: The Willowdale Handcar

updated 01/28/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/28/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Edward Gorey

"One summer afternoon in Willowdale, Edna, Harry and Sam," three adults who look like Edwardians in garden party costumes, board a handcar at the railway station. "Soon they were flying along the tracks at a great rate." This book of etchinglike drawings describes their surreal adventures, which, like Willowdale, exist only in the mind of their cartoonist creator. In some of the pictures a black doll appears, but Edna, Harry and Sam never notice it. That is the odd, irrelevant sort of detail that makes the stories in Gorey's little books unique. He has done more than 40 of them. They are a strange shape: six inches by six, nice to pick up, a pleasure to open, a delight to peruse. Although most of his work has been collected into big anthologies, his peculiar fables lose something when that happens. Gorey is an original book creator who even hand-letters his text. This volume, first published in 1962, is one of a series being reissued. It is dedicated to actress Lillian Gish, and that, too, is a nice touch. (Dodd, Mead, $5.95)

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