Picks and Pans Review: Gahan Wilson's America

updated 03/03/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/03/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Gahan Wilson

Anyone who has seen Wilson's grotesque, hilarious New Yorker or Playboy cartoons might guess that this is not exactly a literary version of Up With People! Surprisingly, Wilson's wry morbidity occasionally lapses into what might pass for reluctant patriotism, but as he notes in his introduction, he's not averse to self-contradiction: "I was born and grew up in the Midwest (Evanston, Ill.)—where you always pretend it's a good day even if you and all about you know perfectly well it's not—and then lived the bulk of my life, or have so far, in New York—where you tend to knock the good days just to show you're tough." His unmistakable drawings accompanied by brief (sometimes not brief enough) text are divided into such sections as "The Wild West," "Roads and Cars" and "Dating and Marriage." The unifying theme is that there's a monster of some sort lurking around nearly every corner. If there isn't any hope though, there are at least laughs. As the goateed shrink tells his patient in one drawing, "We must find out what's driving you from one incompetent psychiatrist to another." (Simon and Schuster, $14.95)

From Our Partners