American Fantastic Tales

Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940's Until Now

By Peter Straub (Editor)
(Library of America, Hardcover, 9781598530483, 713pp.)

Publication Date: October 2009

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover

Shop Local
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.


The second volume of Peter Straubas pathbreaking anthology American Fantastic Tales picks up the story in 1940 and provides persuasive evidence that the decades since then have seen an extraordinary flowering. While continuing to explore the classic themes of horror and fantasy, successive generations of writersa including Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Stephen King, Steven Millhauser, and Thomas Ligottiahave opened up the field to new subjects, new styles, and daringly fresh expansions of the genreas emotional and philosophical underpinnings. For many of these writers, the fantastic is simply the best available tool for describing the dislocations and newly hatched terrors of the modern era, from the nightmarish post- apocalyptic savagery of Harlan Ellisonas aI Have No Mouth, and I Must Screama to proliferating identities set deliriously adrift in Tim Powersa aPat Moore.a
aAt its core, a writes editor Peter Straub, athe fantastic is a way of seeing.a In place of gothic trappings, the post-war masters of the fantastic often substitute an air of apparent normality. The surfaces of American lifeadepartment store displays in John Collieras aEvening Primrose, a tar-paper roofs seen from an el train in Fritz Leiberas aSmoke Ghost, a the balcony of a dilapidated movie theater in Tennessee Williamsa aThe Mysteries of the Joy Rioaabecome invested with haunting presences. The sphere of family life is transformed, in Davis Grubbas aWhere the Woodbine Twinetha or Richard Mathesonas aPrey, a into an arena of eerie menace. Dramas of madness, malevolent temptation, and vampiristic appropriation play themselves out against the backdrop of modern urban life in John Cheeveras aTorch Songa and Shirley Jacksonas unforgettable aThe Daemon Lover.a
Nearly half the stories collected in this volume were published in the last two decades, including work by Michael Chabon, M. Rickert, Brian Evenson, Kelly Link, and Benjamin Percy: writers for whom traditional genre boundaries have ceased to exist, and who have brought the fantastic into the mainstream of contemporary writing. The 42 stories in this second volume of "American Fantastic Tales" provide an irresistible journey into the phantasmagoric underside of the American imagination.
aAn encompassing and essential voyage to the dark side of the moon of American literature.a aJonathan Lethem

Saturday, Oct 31, 2009

Author Peter Straub knows a bit about terror. As the editor of the new two-volume set American Fantastic: Tales, Terror and the Uncanny, he spent two years researching the best — and scariest — American stories, dating from the age of Edgar Allan Poe to the present. More at

NPR Audio Player Requires Flash Upgrade: Please upgrade your plug-in to view this content.

Indie Bookstore Finder

Update Profile