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Paperback American Gothic Tales Book

ISBN: 0452274893

ISBN13: 9780452274891

American Gothic Tales

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

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. 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...

Customer Reviews

7 ratings


I did not understand, and/or missed the premise of, quite a few of them. If you ask me about it now, the only one I can describe is The Replacements. A Rose For Emily was okay. I have seen that movie and the Veldt as well, and a couple of others too. But some of these...Come on. Bear Rape?

Another winner for Ms. Oates

I am not only astounded by the sheer number of books and stories that Ms. Oates has written in the last couple of decades, but I am so impressed by how effortlessly she writes about horror, true crime, love stories, biographies. I don't think there isn't a genre that she hasn't conquered. This particular serving of Gothic Horror is one of her best, and that's saying a lot. I have read an obscene number of horror novels and short stories, and she is up there with the absolute best.

Amazing collection of gothic tales...

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. All I knew was that some of the authors sparked my attention -- namely Joyce Carol Oates, one of my favorite writers, as the editor -- because I had no idea that said authors wrote gothic tales. This is one of the darkest, most thought-provoking and downright sinister short-story collections out there. The horror in the stories are like no other ones I have read. I still haven't been able to get some of these stories out of my head. My favorite stories are "The Black Cat," by Edgar Allen Poe; "Afterward," by Edith Wharton; "Freniere," by Anne Rice; "In Bed One Night," by Robert Coover; and "Replacements," by Lisa Tuttle. This book definitely made an interesting read on my round trip train ride to be with family on Thanksgiving. American Gothic Tales enthralled me from beginning to end. I highly recommend this collection to those who are in the bargain for literary gothic stories written by literature's biggest names from yesterday and today.


I haven't had a chance to read all of the stories, but all that I have read so far I have loved! This collection of short stories is a wonder mix of the horrific and bizzarre

A book of value

By far American Gothic Tales is a magnificent book. The book includes many wonderful authors with spine-chilling stories. One of the stories is Ray Bradbury's "The Veldt" it deals with a highly advanced house that caters to the families every need, the parents find something very unsettling in the children's room, this story has a chilling ending. Another great story in Shirley Jackson's "The lovely House" this is a story of never ending cleaning, it has a wonderful twist in characters at the end of the story. One of the story's that I will never forget is Bruce McAllister's " The Girl Who Loved Animals" A twenty year old girl with a mental handicap, has something strange growing inside of her. She loved the animals so much she took money to have a baby gorilla implanted inside of her, this story has a lot of shocking fads but a wonderful ending. An particular story that keeps you hanging on to every word and wondering what is going to happen next is Edith Wharton's "Afterward" this story is about a newlywed couple who encounter strange things, the wife finds out a secret her husband has been keeping from her, then he has a mysterious disappearance. The books' stories are filled with mystery and horror that is guaranteed to make you sleep with one eye open at night. This is a classic book that will be around for centuries to come. Joyce Carol Oates did an outrageous job of editing these stories. What a wonderful arrangement of many great authors both old and new. This I will keep this book for years to come, to look back one day on all the great authors and their stories. These are the stories I will tell to my children sitting around a campfire late at night.

A great book to read on a wet, lazy day.

American Gothic Tales, edited by Joyce Carol Oats, is a wonderful compilation of short stories from the bizzare and twisted to the utterly grotesque. This book includes authors known for their horrific tales like Edgar Allen Poe and Anne Rice, to others such as Charolette Perkins Gilman and Mark Twain, who I would not expect to be included in this anthology of gothic tales. "Freniere" by Anne Rice (one of my favorite storytellers) takes your imagination to the mysterious and historical city of New Orleans.In some hotel room in the French Quarter, a vampire named Louis tells the agonizing story of his life as the undead. Shirly Jackson's perplexing story "The Lovely House" will keep you guessing the entire time you are reading this haunted tale. The most thought provoking story I read was "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charolette Perkins Gilman. This is a tale of a woman who's greatest enjoyment comes from writing, but due to the repression by her husband and the times she lives in, she is denied her greatest pleasure. As you turn each page, you will find yourself joining in her downward spiral to insanity. Of coarse a collection of gothic tales would not be complete without a story from Poe. Oats pick, "The Black Cat" explores the maddness of a man addicted to alcohol and the cruelties he inflicts upon his beloved cat Pluto, and wife.

High literary quality and diversity of content

No doubt because one of America's finest writers of literary fiction edited it, American Gothic Tales contains stories that not only frighten and disturb in their content, but delight in their style as well. Although some of the writers represented here are associated with the gothic/horror genre (Poe, Bierce, Anne Rice, Stephen King, to name a few), many others are celebrated mainstream writers. Of the oldies but goodies, I enjoyed re-reading (after an interim of thirty years or so) Poe's "The Black Cat," a story much more subtle than my younger self appreciated. Several of the stories suggest meanings that go far beyond mere horror. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wall-Paper" and Shirley Jackson's "The Lovely House," for example, deal with the confining roles of women. In the first story, a woman who would write and enjoy stimulating company is relegated by her husband to a "nursery" where her every desire is belittled and dismissed. In the second--ostensibly a ghost story--the upkeep required of a fabulous but vampiric house keeps its family prisoners of never-ending housework. Lisa Tuttle's "Replacements" uses an ugly, hairless, helpless, mewling alien creature, rescued and doted on by women, as a droll analogy to a newborn replacing a husband in the life of his wife. Breece D'J Pancake's "Time and Again," told in the voice of a serial killer, provides horror aplenty, but--often missing in this genre--character, motivation, and a pervading sense of tragedy and loss. Bruce McAllister's "The Girl Who Loved Animals" presents a near-future,environmentally-devastated dystopia where a mentally retarded young woman consents to carry in her uterus a gorilla child. In this not-so-alien world of drug addiction and elective surgery run amok, the bonds between mother and child remain intact and poignant. In spite of its searing vision of the future, "The Girl Who Loved Animals" must be an anomaly in the gothic/horror genre--a story with a happy ending.
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