American Gothic Tales

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Overview

Joyce Carol Oates has a special perspective on the “gothic” in American short fiction, at least partially because her own horror yarns rank on the spine-tingling chart with the masters. She is able to see the unbroken link of the macabre that ties Edgar Allan Poe to Anne Rice and to recognize the dark psychological bonds between Henry James and Stephen King. This remarkable anthology of gothic fiction, spanning two centuries of American writing, gives us an intriguing and entertaining look at how the gothic ...

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Overview

Joyce Carol Oates has a special perspective on the “gothic” in American short fiction, at least partially because her own horror yarns rank on the spine-tingling chart with the masters. She is able to see the unbroken link of the macabre that ties Edgar Allan Poe to Anne Rice and to recognize the dark psychological bonds between Henry James and Stephen King. This remarkable anthology of gothic fiction, spanning two centuries of American writing, gives us an intriguing and entertaining look at how the gothic imagination makes for great literature in the works of forty-six exceptional writers.

In showing us the gothic vision—a world askew where mankind’s forbidden impulses are set free from the repressions of the psyche, and nature turns malevolent and lawless—Joyce Carol Oates includes Henry James’s “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes,” Herman Melville’s horrific tale of factory women, “The Tartarus of Maids,” and Edith Wharton’s “Afterward,” which are rarely collected and appear together here for the first time.

Added to these stories of the past are new ones that explore the wounded worlds of Stephen King, Anne Rice, Peter Straub, Raymond Carver, and more than twenty other wonderful contemporary writers. This impressive collection reveals the astonishing scope of the gothic writer’s subject matter, style, and incomparable genius for manipulating our emotions and penetrating our dreams. With Joyce Carol Oates’s superb introduction, American Gothic Tales is destined to become the standard one-volume edition of the genre that American writers, if they didn’t create it outright, have brought to its chilling zenith.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In compiling 40 short stories that represent the 200-year history of "gothic" fiction in America, from Washington Irving's classic "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" to Stephen King's "The Reach," Oates employs a eclectic and elastic definition of the genre. In her cogent introduction, she writes that she sought "the range, depth, audacity and fantastical extravagance of the human imagination." The result is a tad confusing, straying as far as science fiction and surrealism, but Oates's taste in the quality of stories is always impeccable. The pieces also all share a certain darkness. Entries range from Edgar Allen Poe's sadistic "The Black Cat" to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's classic psychological horror story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice and Katherine Dunn are also represented. Among the more idiosyncratic selections are Herman Melville's "The Tartarus of Maids"; Don DeLillo's beautiful tale of astronauts floating above the earth in "Human Moments in World War III"; and Paul Bowles's strange and powerful "Allal," about a Moroccan orphan boy who so identifies with a snake that they mysteriously change bodies-and meet gory fates. Fright-seekers and those with a taste for the frankly macabre might be won over by Oates's more artistic, subtle and compelling take on the gothic, where the "essential subject is the human psyche in confrontation with something (divine? demonic?) beyond human comprehension and control." (Dec.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452274891
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/28/1996
  • Series: William Abrahams Series
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 301,836
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

In addition to many prize-winning and bestselling novels, including We Were the Mulvaneys, Black Water, and Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart (available in Plume editions), Joyce Carol Oates is the author of a number of works of gothic fiction including Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque (Plume), a 1995 World Fantasy Award nominee; and Zombie (Plume), winner of the 1996 Bram Stoker Award for Best Horror Novel, awarded by the Horror Writers' Association. In 1994, Oates received the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award in Horror Fiction. She is the editor of American Gothic Tales and her latest novel is Broke Heart Blues (Dutton). She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Biography

Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world. She has often used her supreme narrative skills to examine the dark side of middle-class Americana, and her oeuvre includes some of the finest examples of modern essays, plays, criticism, and fiction from a vast array of genres. She is still publishing with a speed and consistency of quality nearly unheard of in contemporary literature.

A born storyteller, Oates has been spinning yarns since she was a little girl too young to even write. Instead, she would communicate her stories through drawings and paintings. When she received her very first typewriter at the age of 14, her creative floodgates opened with a torrent. She says she wrote "novel after novel" throughout high school and college -- a prolificacy that has continued unabated throughout a professional career that began in 1963 with her first short story collection, By the North Gate.

Oates's breakthrough occurred in 1969 with the publication of them, a National Book Award winner that established her as a force to be reckoned with. Since that auspicious beginning, she has been nominated for nearly every major literary honor -- from the PEN/Faulkner Award to the Pulitzer Prize -- and her fiction turns up with regularity on The New York Times annual list of Notable Books.

On average Oates publishes at least one novel, essay anthology, or story collection a year (during the 1970s, she produced at the astonishing rate of two or three books a year!). And although her fiction often exposes the darker side of America's brightest facades – familial unrest, sexual violence, the death of innocence – she has also made successful forays into Gothic novels, suspense, fantasy, and children's literature. As novelist John Barth once remarked, "Joyce Carol Oates writes all over the aesthetical map."

Where she finds the time for it no one knows, but Oates manages to combine her ambitious, prolific writing career with teaching: first at the University of Windsor in Canada, then (from 1978 on), at Princeton University in New Jersey. For all her success and fame, her daily routine of teaching and writing has changed very little, and her commitment to literature as a transcendent human activity remains steadfast.

Good To Know

When not writing, Oates likes to take in a fight. "Boxing is a celebration of the lost religion of masculinity all the more trenchant for its being lost," she says in highbrow fashion of the lowbrow sport.

Oates's Black Water, which is a thinly veiled account of Ted Kennedy's car crash in Chappaquiddick, was produced as an opera in the 1990s.

In 2001, Oprah Winfrey selected Oates's novel We Were the Mulvaneys for her Book Club.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Rosamond Smith
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 16, 1938
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lockport, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

Table of Contents

Introduction Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810), from Wieland, or the Transformation
Washington Irving (1783-1859), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), The Man of Adamant, Young Goodman Brown Herman Melville (1819-1891), The Tartarus of Maids Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), The Black Cat Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935), The Yellow Wallpaper Henry James (1843-1916), The Romance of Certain Old Clothes Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?), The Damned Thing Edith Wharton (1862-1937), Afterward Gertrude Atherton (1857-1948), The Striding Place Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941), Death in the Woods H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), The Outsider William Faulkner (1893-1962), A Rose for Emily August Derleth (1909-1971), The Lonesome Place E.B. White (1899-1985), The Door Shirley Jackson (1919-1965), The Lovely House Paul Bowles (1910- ), Allal Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991), The Reencounter William Goyen (1915-1983), In the Icebound Hothouse John Cheever (1912-1982), The Enormous Radio Ray Bradbury (1920- ), The Veldt W.S. Merwin (1927- ), The Dachau Shoe, the Approved, Spiders I Have Known, Postcards from the Maginot Line Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams Robert Coover (1932- ), In Bed One Night Ursula K. LeGuin (1929- ), Schrödinger's Cat E.L. Doctorow (1931- ), The Waterworks Harlan Ellison (1934- ), Shattered Like a Glass Goblin Don DeLillo (1936- ), Human Moments in World War III John L'Heureux (1938- ), The Anatomy of Desire Raymond Carver (1938-1988), Little Things Joyce Carol Oates (1938- ), The Temple Anne Rice (1941- ), Freniere Peter Straub (1943- ), A Short Guide to the City Steven Millhauser (1943- ), In the Penny Arcade Stephen King (1947- ), The Reach Charles Johnson (1948- ), Exchange Value John Crowley (1942- ), Snow Thomas Ligotti (1947- ), The Last Feast of Harlequin Breece D'J Pancake (1952-1979), Time and Again Lisa Tuttle (1952- ), Replacements Melissa Pritchard (1948- ), Spirit Seizures Nancy Etchemendy (1952- ), Cat in Glass Bruce McAllister (1946- ), The Girl Who Loved Animals Kathe Koja and Barry N. Malzberg, Ursus Triad, Later Katherine Dunn, The Nuclear Family: His Talk, Her Teeth Nicholson Baker (1957- ), Subsoil

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    Perfect Combination of Gothic Tales

    This book is perfectly done with all the classic gothic tales you could ever ask for in one book! Would highly recommend this book for anyone that loves the classic horror tales!!

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