Night Shadows: Twentieth-Century Stories of the Uncannyby Joan C. Kessler
This fine collection of fifteen stories straddles the thin border between ordinary anxiety and existential nightmare. These tales of dread and darkness ignore the traditional demons haunting country houses or popping up from unopened graves, but instead feature characters inhabiting the familiar scenes of quotidian life. That these are tales of ordinary people makes them all the more disquieting, their horrors more sharply edged, precisely because they are set in modern, everyday reality. What the protagonists have in common, regardless of age, status, or profession, is that at some point in their lives, by imperceptible degrees or with alarming rapidity, reality turns strange, the unthinkable becomes conceivable, and the specters of uncertainty, fear, and stark, sheer terror become their constant companions.
Many are studies of compulsion, of forces so powerful they subjugate the will; others are of obsession. The energies and tensions of family life also provide fertile ground: Wharton and Graves portray tormented (and tormenting) couples, while Campbell and Aickman explore unplumbed depths in a father-son and a mother-daughter relationship. In the stories by Truman Capote and Joyce Carol Oates, the uncanny is encountered in a fateful and unsettling regression to childhood.
The supernatural has probably never been far away, usually hovering nearby as (in the words of V. S. Pritchett) "blobs of the unconscious that have floated up to the surface of the mind." In this post-Freudian world we have writers who are unafraid to explore the meanings and parameters of the supernatural. From Elizabeth Bowen to Shirley Jackson, from Ray Bradbury to William Trevor, this selection savors the shadows of these nocturnal landscapes, providing us with momentary (and always literary) encounters with this most elusive, and least tamed, landscape of the human heart.
- Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
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- 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
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