By S. T. Joshi
The last word selection of bizarre and scary American fiction.
As Stephen King will attest, the recognition of the occult in American literature has in basic terms grown because the days of Edgar Allan Poe. American Supernatural stories celebrates the richness of this practice with chilling contributions from the various nation's brightest literary lighting, together with Poe himself, H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and-of path- Stephen King. by means of turns phantasmagoric, spectral, and demonic, it is a frighteningly sturdy addition to Penguin Classics.
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Extra resources for American Supernatural Tales (Penguin Classics)
They also protested against the occasional flamboyance of Lovecraft’s prose, so contrary to the skeletonic syntax of a Hemingway or a Sherwood Anderson, and so easily parodied—especially, and unwittingly, by a host of self-styled disciples who sought to mimic Lovecraft’s lush texture and elaborate upon his Cthulhu Mythos. Accordingly, Matheson and his compatriots fashioned tales emphatically, perhaps aggressively, set in a recognizable world of telephones, washing machines, and office jobs. This tendency had been anticipated by Fritz Leiber, who in “Smoke Ghost,” “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes,” and other tales of the 1940s nonetheless managed to fuse Lovecraftian cosmicism with mundane reality.
There is even now no sound historical discussion of supernatural literature. In many ways the best remains Les Daniels’s Living in Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media (Scribner, 1975), although of course it is now much out of date. Still of value is H. P. Lovecraft’s “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” first published in 1927. See The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature, edited by S. T. Joshi (Hippocampus Press, 2000). Stimulating both as a theoretical analysis and an historical study is Peter Penzoldt’s The Supernatural in Fiction (Peter Nevill, 1952).
E. D. Klein, “The Events at Poroth Farm,” copyright © 1972 by T. E. D. Klein. Reprinted by permission of Pimlico Agency, Inc. Stephen King, “Night Surf,” from Night Shift by Stephen King. Copyright © 1976, 1977, 1978 by Stephen King. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. Dennis Etchison, “The Late Shift,” copyright © 1980 by Dennis Etchison. Reprinted by permission of the author. Thomas Ligotti, “Vastarien,” copyright © 1987 by Thomas Ligotti. Reprinted by permission of the author.