American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny From the 1940s Until Now (Library of America)

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John Collier • Tennessee Williams • Truman Capote • Shirley Jackson • Vladimir Nabokov • Ray Bradbury • Harlan Ellison • John Crowley • Joyce Carol Oates • Stephen King • Michael Chabon • Tim Powers • and 30 others

“What remains when the conscious and functioning self has been erased is mankind’s fundamental condition — irrational, violent, guilt-wracked, despairing, and mad.” — Peter Straub

In order to provide some closure in regard to my post last week, which discussed Terror and the Uncanny From Poe to the Pulps, I thought it fitting to take a quick look at Volume Two in the Library of America’s American Fantastic Tales series. Above, you can see a list of the marquee authors featured in this volume,as well as a blurb from series editor, Peter Straub (which paraphrases Lovecraft’s “oldest emotion” axiom, by the way).

The table of contents for Volume 2 are as follows:

Volume 2:
Introduction by Peter Straub
“Evening Primrose” by John Collier (1940)
“Smoke Ghost” by Fritz Leiber (1941)
“Mysteries of the Joy Rio” by Tennessee Williams (1941)
“The Refugee” by Jane Rice (1943)
“Mr. Lupescu” by Anthony Boucher (1945)
“Miriam” by Truman Capote (1945)
“Midnight” by Jack Snow (1947)
“Torch Song” by John Cheever (1947)
“I’m Scared” by Jack Finney (1948)
“The Daemon Lover” by Shirley Jackson (1949)
“The Circular Valley” by Paul Bowles (1950)
“The April Witch” by Ray Bradbury (1952)
“Black Country” by Charles Beaumont (1954)
“The Vane Sisters” by Vladimir Nabokov (1959)
“Trace” by Jerome Bixby (1964)
“Where the Woodbine Twineth” by Davis Grubb (1964)
“Nightmare” by Donald Wandrei (1965)
“I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison (1967)
“Prey” by Richard Matheson (1969)
“Events at Poroth Farm” by T.E.D. Klein (1972)
“Hanka” by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1974)
“Linneaus Forgets” by Fred Chappell (1977)
“Novelty” by John Crowley (1983)
“Mr. Fiddlehead” by Jonathan Carroll (1989)
“Family” by Joyce Carol Oates (1989)
“The Last Feast of Harlequin” by Thomas Ligotti (1990)
“A Short Guide to the City” by Peter Straub (1990)
“The General Who Is Dead” by Jeff VanderMeer (1996)
“That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French” by Stephen King (1998)
“The Long Hall on the Top Floor” by Caitlin R. Kiernan (1999)
“Sea Oak” by George Saunders (2000)
“Nocturne” by Thomas Tessier (2000)
“The God of Dark Laughter” by Michael Chabon (2001)
“Pop Art” by Joe Hill (2001)
“Pansu” by Poppy Z. Brite (2003)
“Dangerous Laughter” by Steven Millhauser (2003)
“The Chambered Fruit” by M. Rickert (2003)
“The Wavering Knife” by Brian Evenson (2004)
“Stone Animals” by Kelly Link (2004)
“Pat Moore” by Tim Powers (2004)
“The Little Stranger” by Gene Wolfe (2004)
“Dial Tone” by Benjamin Percy (2007)

As with the first volume, I think this is a pretty good selection of American weird literature. However, I have to wonder why there was not room in the mid-’70s portion of the collection for Karl Edward Wagner’s classic story, “Sticks.” That tale has won awards and is still a favorite amongst the horror fans I know. The same goes for “Beyond Any Measure.” Leaving Wagner out of this anthology, when his long shadow still darkens (in a good way) the horror literature scene to this very hour, seems a serious oversight. The LoA website prominently heralds the fact that “contemporary authors” comprise a large portion of this volume. Perhaps that had something to do with Straub’s decision.

The Library of America is offering a boxed set of both volumes.