Picks and Pans Review: Vanna Karenina

updated 10/24/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/24/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Frank Gannon

Since the world has not become noticeably saner in the past year, it isn't surprising that Gannon's satiric essays in this collection are as far off the cosmic wall as were those in his 1987 book, Yo, Poe. The title piece transposes Ms. White of Wheel of Fortune into the Tolstoy character, in which guise, Gannon writes, "She had seen everything that there was to see about humanity: how some would keep their extra money on account even though there was an attractive curio cabinet still available, how some would have the puzzle solved and yet continue to spin the wheel out of sheer naked human greed. Greed, mendacity, really bad taste in clothes, bad spelling, she had seen it all." A quote from Jay Mclnerney's editor, who in responding to a review said, "Jay could have written the King James Bible and people would have panned it," all but forced Gannon to write "Bright Lights, Big Firmament," in which the narrator muses about Sarah: "You've met her husband, Abraham, who is a lot older. Abraham is an anal retentive, up front, East Side guy who neglects his wife. You should call Sarah. You make a mental note about this, but then you realize that you've made way too many mental notes." Gannon is also moved to do a long overdue update of the zodiac. His sign for Aug. 24-Sept. 23, for example, is Grits: "Your highest aim is to be with others like yourself. You like to huddle together with a big crowd of other Grits. You love to travel, though, so maybe you should think about joining a club. Where do you like to go? Anywhere. Anywhere they have cheese or gravy or bacon or butter or eggs." Among the other skewerees are Ted Turner (for colorization), Donald Trump (his comment that "deals are my art form" leads to the "Donald Trump Art School") and the NFL. No fatal wounds are delivered, but it's fun watching Gannon administer minor injuries. (Viking, $15.95)

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