American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps

American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps

by Peter Straub


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From early on, American literature has teemed with tales of horror, of hauntings, of terrifying obsessions and gruesome incursions, of the uncanny ways in which ordinary reality can be breached and subverted by the unknown and the irrational. As this pathbreaking two-volume anthology demonstrates, it is a tradition with many unexpected detours and hidden chambers, and one that continues to evolve, finding new forms and new themes as it explores the bad dreams that lurk around the edges—if not in the unacknowledged heart—of the everyday. Peter Straub, one of today’s masters of horror and fantasy, offers an authoritative and diverse gathering of stories calculated to unsettle and delight.

This first volume surveys a century and a half of American fantastic storytelling, revealing in its forty-four stories an array of recurring themes: trance states, sleepwalking, mesmerism, obsession, possession, madness, exotic curses, evil atmospheres. In the tales of Irving, Poe, and Hawthorne, the bright prospects of the New World face an uneasy reckoning with the forces of darkness. In the ghost-haunted Victorian and Edwardian eras, writers including Henry James, Edith Wharton, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Ambrose Bierce explore ever more refined varieties of spectral invasion and disintegrating selfhood.

In the twentieth century, with the arrival of the era of the pulps, the fantastic took on more monstrous and horrific forms at the hands of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, and other classic contributors to Weird Tales. Here are works by acknowledged masters such as Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, Conrad Aiken, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, along with surprising discoveries like Ralph Adams Cram’s “The Dead Valley,” Emma Francis Dawson’s “An Itinerant House,” and Julian Hawthorne’s “Absolute Evil.”

American Fantastic Tales offers an unforgettable ride through strange and visionary realms.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781598530476
Publisher: Library of America
Publication date: 10/01/2009
Pages: 750
Product dimensions: 5.22(w) x 8.18(h) x 1.29(d)

About the Author

Peter Straub is one of America’s foremost authors of supernatural and suspense fiction. He is the New York Times bestselling author of a dozen novels, including the horror classic Ghost Story and The Talisman, which he cowrote with Stephen King. His latest novel, Black House—also written with King—is a #1 New York Times bestseller. A past president of the Horror Writers of America and multiple award winner, he lives in New York City.


New York City

Date of Birth:

March 2, 1943

Place of Birth:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


B.A. in English, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1965; M.A., Columbia University, 1966

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American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
JonathanGorman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not a bad collection. There's some really good tales that I haven't read before. I do think that perhaps they included a few too many stories. I would suspect that there's not as many horror/scary/terror stories as some folks might be expecting. Most of the folks included in the collection probably won't come to a surprise as a fan of short American literature. There's an occasional lesser known author, but I was hoping for a story by Kenneth Morris.
TChesney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I appreciate the author's name at the top of the left page and the title of the short story on the top of the right page.I appreciate the biographies. They are very thorough. I like the alphabetic sequence. The birth and death dates go very well with the story's publication date. For some reason, which I cannot justify, I need to know when the story was written/published (1948 or 1812) and the age of the author (24 or 72).Specifics:Sarah Orne Jewett, 'In Dark New England Days' (pages 112 to 130) - her dialogue is too colloquial. The reading is cumbersome.Emma Francis Dawson, 'An Itinerant House' (pages 238 to 254) - very good.Lafcadio Hearn, 'Yuki-Onna (pages 282 to 286 - good.Ambrose Bierce, 'The Moonlit Road' ( pages 302 to 311) - very good.Edward Lucas White, ' Lukundoo' (pages 312 to 325) - very good.Henry James, 'The Jolly Corner' (pages 337 to 370) - too wordy, verbose, eloquent. The reading is difficult.Edith Wharton, 'Afterward' (pages 386 to 415) - much easier to read.Willa Cather, Consequences' (pages 416 to 435) - on page 417 refers to a 'traffic block', in 1915!F. Scott Fitzgerald, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' (pages 510 to 535) - very well done. It was recently made into a major movie.Seabury Quinn, 'The Curse of Everard Maundy' (pages 536 to 567) - I hope that I can find more of psychic detective Jules de Grandin and Dr. Trowbridge, the main characters. According to the author biographies "From 1925 to 1951 Quinn wrote 93 such stories". Quinn was 36 to 62 years old then.Some printing errors:Page 9, line 26, "of it it was". In my opinion, the second "it" is an error.Page 61, line 16, "We arc in a" should be "We are in a".Page 125, line 6, "Mis' Dow" totally confuses me.Etc.I wrote this, from my notes, several months after actually reading the book.