The Library of America is one of those wonderful and massive collections, like The Criterion Collection, that make me think I should read (or, in the case of the Criterion Collection, see) everything on the list, for my own intellectual and aesthetic betterment.
And then I realize I’ll never have the time, so I just think wistfully about it.
But then something like this comes up on the horizon. American Fantastic Tales, a two-volume boxed collection of what they call “the American Gothic tradition” (so you can see where that’d grab my attention, but hey, even under another label it’d have the same effect), “from Edgar Allan Poe to today’s masters of terror and the uncanny.”
Two volumes, 1500 pages. 86 stories. Selected by Peter Straub. Designed by Chip Kidd. Featuring:
Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Fitz-James O’Brien, Bret Harte, Harriet Prescott Spofford, W. C. Morrow, Sarah Orne Jewett, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin, John Kendrick Bangs, Robert W. Chambers, Ralph Adams Cram, Madeline Yale Wynne, Gertrude Atherton, Emma Francis Dawson, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Frank Norris, Lafcadio Hearn, F. Marion Crawford, Ambrose Bierce, Edward Lucas White, Olivia Howard Dunbar, Henry James, Alice Brown, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Ellen Glasgow, Julian Hawthorne, Francis Stevens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Seabury Quinn, Stephen Vincent Benét, David H. Keller, Conrad Aiken, Robert E. Howard, Henry S. Whitehead, August Derleth, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, John Collier, Fritz Leiber, Tennessee Williams, Jane Rice, Anthony Boucher, Truman Capote, Jack Snow, John Cheever, Shirley Jackson, Paul Bowles, Jack Finney, Vladimir Nabokov, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Jerome Bixby, Davis Grubb, Donald Wandrei, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, T.E.D. Klein, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Fred Chappell, John Crowley, Jonathan Carroll, Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Ligotti, Peter Straub, Jeff VanderMeer, Stephen King, George Saunders, Caitlín Kiernan, Thomas Tessier, Michael Chabon, Joe Hill, Poppy Z. Brite, Steven Millhauser, M. Rickert, Brian Evenson, Kelly Link. Tim Powers, Gene Wolfe and Benjamin Percy.
The second volume alone looks like an astounding collection of modern horror.
The first volume, though, looks like a treasure trove.
“The Moonlit Road.” “Grettir at Thorhall-stead.” “The King of the Cats.” “Thurlow’s Christmas Story.” “In Dark New England Days.” “For the Blood Is the Life.” And on and on.
I don’t know about you, but I’m hooked. I can’t look at that picture above without wanting to pick up the books, heft their weight in my hands, page through them slowly, dipping into a story here, a story there.
I want them. Now.