Synopses & Reviews
From early on, American literature has teemed with tales of horror, of hauntings, of terrifying obsessions and gruesome incursions, of the uncanny ways in which ordinary reality can be breached and subverted by the unknown and the irrational. As this pathbreaking two-volume anthology demonstrates, it is a tradition with many unexpected detours and hidden chambers, and one that continues to evolve, finding new forms and new themes as it explores the bad dreams that lurk around the edges-if not in the unacknowledged heart--of the everyday. Peter Straub, one of today's masters of horror and fantasy, offers an authoritative and diverse gathering of stories calculated to unsettle and delight.
This first volume surveys a century and a half of American fantastic storytelling, revealing in its 44 stories an array of recurring themes: trance states, sleepwalking, mesmerism, obsession, possession, madness, exotic curses, evil atmospheres. In the tales of Irving, Poe, and Hawthorne, the bright prospects of the New World face an uneasy reckoning with the forces of darkness. In the ghost-haunted Victorian and Edwardian eras, writers including Henry James, Edith Wharton, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Ambrose Bierce explore ever more refined varieties of spectral invasion and disintegrating selfhood.
In the twentieth century, with the arrival of the era of the pulps, the fantastic took on more monstrous and horrific forms at the hands of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, and other classic contributors to Weird Tales. Here are works by acknowledged masters such as Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, Conrad Aiken, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, along with surprising discoveries like Ralph Adams Cram's The Dead Valley, Emma Francis Dawson's An Itinerant House, and Julian Hawthorne's Absolute Evil. American Fantastic Tales offers an unforgettable ride through strange and visionary realms.
A stupendous, spellbinding reading experience waiting to be had. -Jonathan Lethem
"In a time when the Fantastic is regaining popularity in American literature, this wide-ranging collection of horror and supernatural stories is a welcomed reeducation into the genre's roots. Some of the selections are already unquestioned classics-Hawthorne's 'Young Goodman Brown,' Poe's 'Berenice,' Gilman's 'The Yellow Wall Paper.' Although, any reader may find Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Henry S. Whitehead, David H. Keller, Seabury Quinn, Francis Stevens, H.L. Lovecraft and August Derleth just as worthy. Even those most well-acquainted with the genre will be pleasantly surprised with the tales by lesser-known writers, such as Willa Cather's 'Consequences' and Gertrude Atherton's 'The Striding Place.' Editor Straub highlights a Feminist strain with female writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Harriet Prescott Spoofed, Kate Chopin, Madeline Yale Wynne, Alice Brown-to name a few, offering an interesting reassessment of a crucial era in fantastic fiction." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The 32 selections in Penzler’s rich compendium of early American mystery stories feature a wide range of criminal activities. Organized chronologically, the volume opens with Washington Irving’s “Story of the Young Robber,” a gripping tale of jealousy, passion, and murder told by an obsessive teenager who joins a band of kidnappers that targets his ex-lover. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Mr. Higgenbotham’s Catastrophe,” Dominicus Pike, a gossipy tobacco seller, meets a stranger in the woods and hears of the death of a noted businessman under “ambiguous circumstances.” Abraham Lincoln’s “Remarkable Case of Arrest for Murder,” a true crime account first published in 1846, tells of three sinister brothers whom he defended in an unsolved “strange affair” in Illinois. Poe is represented with his groundbreaking “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter,” which introduced C. Auguste Dupin, the “first eccentric genius detective.” Readers will also savor works by such luminaries as Daniel Webster, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, and Jack London, as well as by a number of forgotten, if no less deserving, names. Penzler (Kwik Krimes
and more than 50 other anthologies) draws on his vast knowledge of the genre for his cogent introduction and commentary on individual entries."--Publishers Weekly, STARRED
"From Penzler, editor of “The Best American Mystery Stories” series, comes a new anthology of 19th-century American mystery fiction. Classics by Edgar Allan Poe and Anna Katharine Green are presented alongside lesser-known works by well-known authors, including Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, L. Frank Baum, and Jack London, as well as several forgotten contributors to the genre. There’s a gem of a story by African American author Charles W. Chesnutt and a legal clunker by Abraham Lincoln that will make you grateful he didn’t quit his day job. Penzler heralds each story with a brief introduction to the author and a description of the work’s significance to the genre. VERDICT Penzler’s latest collection is the literary equivalent of a B-movie marathon. A guaranteed satisfying read for die-hard classical mystery enthusiasts and lovers of literary Americana, if not for everyone else."--Library Journal
Straub, a contemporary master of literary horror and fantasy, offers an authoritative and diverse gathering of stories calculated to unsettle and delight. Ghostly narratives of the Edwardian era, lurid classics from the pulp heyday, and modern-day masterpieces are included in these collections.
An unparalleled treasury of American 19th century mystery fiction selected and introduced by Otto Penzler.
An unparalleled treasury of crime, mystery, and murder from the genres founding century
With stories by Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, L. Frank Baum, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, and Jack London, The Best American Mystery Stories of the Nineteenth Century is an essential anthology of American letters. Its a unique blend of beloved writers who contributed to the genre and forgotten names that pioneered the form, such as Anna Katharine Green, the godmother of mystery fiction, and the African-American writer Charles W. Chesnutt. Of course, Penzler includes “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” recognized as the first detective story, and with thirty-three stories spanning the years 1824-1899, nowhere else can readers find such a surprising, comprehensive take on the evolution of the American mystery story.
About the Author
Peter Straub is one of Americas foremost authors of supernatural and suspense fiction. He is the New York Times bestselling author of a dozen novels, including the horror classic Ghost Story and The Talisman, which he cowrote with Stephen King. His latest novel, Black House—also written with King—is a #1 New York Times bestseller. A past president of the Horror Writers of America and multiple award winner, he lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
1824 • Washington Irving The Story of the Young Robber 1
1827 • William Leggett The Rifle 8
1834 • Nathaniel Hawthorne Mr. Higginbothams Catastrophe 30
1841 • Edgar Allan Poe The Murders in the Rue Morgue 42
1845 • Edgar Allan Poe The Purloined Letter 73
1846 • Abraham Lincoln Remarkable Case of Arrest for Murder 90
1850 • Daniel Webster The Fatal Secret 97
1862 • Thomas Bailey Aldrich The Danseuse 100
1865 • Louisa May Alcott A Double Tragedy: An Actors Story 112
1875 • Allan Pinkerton The Two Sisters; Or, The Avenger 132
1882 • Frank Stockton The Lady, or the Tiger? and The Discourager of Hesitancy 182
1883 • Mark Twain A Thumb-print and What Came of It 194
1888 • Ambrose Bierce My Favorite Murder 207
1889 • Charles W. Chesnutt The Sheriffs Children 215
1891 • Richard Harding Davis Gallegher 230
1892 • William Norr Round the Opium Lamp 256
1894 • Percival Pollard Lingo Dan 261
1895 • Rodrigues Ottolengui The Nameless Man and The Montezuma Emerald 270
1895 • Anna Katharine Green The Doctor, His Wife, and the Clock 292
1895 • William M. Hinkley A Very Strange Case 330
1895 • Mary E. Wilkins The Long Arm 343
1896 • Cleveland Moffett The Mysterious Card and The Mysterious Card Unveiled 371
1896 • Mark Twain Tom Sawyer, Detective 394
1896 • Melville Davisson Post The Corpus Delicti 445
1897 • L. Frank Baum The Suicide of Kiaros 470
1897 • Robert W. Chambers The Purple Emperor 482
1898 • Edward Bellamy At Pinneys Ranch 501
1898 • Stephen Crane The Blue Hotel 514
1899 • Edith Wharton A Cup of Cold Water 541
1899 • Nicholas Carter The Detectives Pretty Neighbor 565
1899 • Ellen Glasgow A Point in Morals 583
1899 • Jack London A Thousand Deaths 595