From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
The latest in a long line of brainy but alienated protagonists Clowes has created over the past two decades Enid in Ghost World (1997) is the best known Wilson may be the most deftly delineated of the lot. He is a middle-aged loner who voices his misanthropic views in self-absorbed soliloquies and harangues strangers in coffee shops and waiting rooms. When his father dies, he gives in to the sudden need to reconnect with the closest thing he has to remaining family, his long-absent ex-wife and the now-grown daughter she put up for adoption after separation from him. Wilson's social ineptitude leads him inexorably to disaster, but by his story's end, years later, he manages to find a measure of hard-won grace. Clowes tells Wilson's story in 70 single-page vignettes, each one drawn in a different style, from the humorous simplicity of magazine gag cartoons to detailed realism; this virtuosity allows him to convey both the darkly humorous and the emotionally wrought aspects of Wilson's existence. A cautionary tale about the consequences of intellect without empathy.--Flagg, Gordon Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Clowes (Ghost World) takes his particular brand of misanthropic misery to new levels of brilliance in this book, a series of one-page gags that show the divorced and lonely main character repeatedly attempting to engage with life, and then falling back into his hell of pessimism. Clowes uses a variety of drawing styles to depict Wilson and his world; sometimes he's highly realistic, other times he's an Andy Capp-style cartoon, but he's always the same downbeat guy. In one sketch titled "FL 1282," Wilson asks the kid seated next to him on a plane about his line of work. When the kid answers that he does "I.T. stuff," Wilson comes back at him with a mockingly satirical description of his own supposed work, using only initials. The last panel shows Wilson looking at a Spirit magazine and asking, "Christ, do you realize how ridiculous you sound?" Clearly, the comment is directed as much at himself as to the I.T. kid. This attitude of solipsistic despair is expressed incisively and cleverly, taking Wilson through a search for his ex-wife, Pippi, who has become a prostitute since leaving him, and their daughter, put up for adoption years earlier. Clowes offers another beautifully drawn slice of piercing social commentary. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved