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American Fantastic Tales:Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940's to Now (Library of America) Hardcover – October 1, 2009
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Surprisingly the stuff by the more well know literary figures like Nabokov, Williams, Bowles, Capote, and Cheever is at least decent and actually surprisingly strong in some cases and probably will not offend genre fans. The names missing is probably a more distressing roster: no Ted Sturgeon, Manly Wade Wellman, Ed Bryant, no Karl Edward Wagner (worst absence of all IMO), no Russell Kirk and (another gaping hole) no Dennis Etchison. This trend also is seen chronologically with more work being selected from later decades and the 60s-80s being covered pretty lightly. Straub obviously has weighted this collection more towards authors he knows personally and views as being relevant to contemporary literary trends.
So we get such luminaries included as Crowley, Chabon, and Powers, good writers, but who are more beloved of NYRB readers than of Cemetery Dance subscribers. None of this is really problematic save perhaps the tedious Crowley piece which is drawn out, meandering, and which has not the least aspect of "terror" or "the uncanny" in it. We also have the required Kelly Link piece. To my perhaps more plain styled tastes, Ms Link strikes me as quaint and cutesy, the Lorrie Moore of our genre. She is to horror as Sinatra is to death metal.Read more ›
The authors range from the well known (e.g., Capote, King, Nabokov, Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Jack Finney, and even Tennessee Williams) through many with whom I was not familiar. All told, there are around 40 or so stories in the 684 page collection. I only found one that was not excellent; so the editor has done a fine job in making his selections. I do want to make it clear, though, the these "uncanny" stories are not science fiction, as I would understand the term, though some have a bit of sf overtones. Really, their key characterstic is a "gotcha" unique twist or two that is most surprising. Straub has edited a second earlier volume covering "Poe to the Pulps" which I bet is equally fascinating. Since this volume contains stories bridging such a long period, it is interesting to see how fantastic stories have evolved over time. Even younger readers will, I think, find these stories well worth reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Have the 1st volume of older "Fantastic Tales." Talked my library into stocking this.Published 10 months ago by patricia barrett
Book was advertised as new. It is not. It is in good shape, and was cheap, so I'm keeping it. However, is was falsely advertised.Published on March 30, 2013 by jason
Used copies don't always come with the paper cover, but that's my own complaint, if a complaint at all. Read morePublished on February 6, 2011 by royzilla