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American Gothic Tales Paperback – Dec 13 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (Dec 13 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452274893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452274891
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #496,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

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"Many of the writers in this volume are not 'gothic' writers but simply--writers. Their inclusion here is meant to suggest the richness and magnitude of the gothic-grotesque vision and the inadequacy of genre labels if by 'genre' is meant mere formula." So writes Joyce Carol Oates in a historical introduction to this anthology of 46 tales--tales that span a range from the Puritan paranoia of Charles Brockden Brown (1798) to the biological surrealism of Nicholson Baker (1994). Some critics have written that the gothic sensibility has no relevance in contemporary literature: by showing how gothic tales portray the all-too-current phenomenon of "assaults on individual identity and autonomy," Oates proves them wrong. I predict this will in time be considered a classic and influential anthology.

From Publishers 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."
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Format: Paperback
American Gothic Stories ed. and with an introduction by Joyce Carol Oates. Highly recommended.
In this 1996 anthology, noted American author Joyce Carol Oates collects American tales of horror and/or the supernatural, from an excerpt from Wieland, or the Transformation (1798) by Charles Brockden Brown, to "Subsoil" (1994) by Nicholson Baker, so that the 50 stories here represent nearly 200 years of the darker side of the American psyche.
The stories, arranged in chronological order, show some clear trends. In early stories, by Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and even Edgar Allan Poe, religion plays a prominent role. Interestingly, God and his creation are seen as at odds with one another. For example, in Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," the forest and the darkness are where Satan meets humanity. "The Tartarus of Maids," an industrial creation of Herman Melville's, is set in a remote rural location, contrasted to another Melville story (not included here), "The Paradise of Bachelors," set in a London gentlemen's club. Perhaps this conviction that nature is a place of mystery, evil, and fear, explains the early (and current) American drive to conquer it.
Another theme is denial of responsibility for one's own terrible actions. When called to account for committing some of the most heinous crimes possible, Wieland's defense is inarguable: He has proved his faith in God by doing that which God desired of him. (Unlike Wieland, the reader will recognise that the "shrill voice" expressing God's bloody will from behind a "fiery stream" is more likely that of the fallen angel Lucifer.)
A second example is the famous Poe story, "The Black Cat," in which the narrator, noted from infancy for his "docility and humanity," becomes a cold-blooded maimer and killer of that which he loves most.
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By A Customer on Oct. 28 1999
Format: Paperback
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.
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From stories that leave you wondering what you just read, to stories that will make you turn all the lights, American Gothic Tales has them. Edited by Joyce Carol Oates, it contains stories that date back to the late Nathaniel Hawthorne to the present day writings of Nicholas Baker. Of the 32 stories compiled into one i enjoyed reading many of them. "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gillman, is one of the strangest stories I have read. In the story, a woman, who today would be considered fine, is locked up in isolation to help restore her to proper mental stature. In another story, Shirley Jackson's "The Lovely House", a young lady is always preoccupied by a ghost with which only she can see, keading her friends to think she is somewhat crazy. Lisa Turtle's "The Replacments" is one of those creepy stories that make you check under the bed for monsters. In the story, women find these small alien creatures and make them their primary companios over boyfriends and husbands in an eerie non-hostile take over. Another story that leaves you wondering is Breece D'J Pancake's "Time and Again". The narrator, who turns out to be a mass murderer leads you through a dreary day of his life plowing snow. This story makes you analyze every aspect of it just to understand it. One of the final stories I read was Bruce McAllister's "The Girl Who Loved Animals" in which the setting takes place 50 years in the future. When a young girl is impregnated with a gorilla embryo, much controversy is stirred up. Through everything though the mother and child remain oddly familiar to each other throughout the future which makes for a trange and unique ending.
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Joyce Carol Oates has created the ultimate collection of gothic tales. Oates has included some of the most popular writers of gothic literature such as Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Oates also included writers that aren't traditionally associated with the gothic tale like Stephan King and Anne Rice. With not any experience in gothic tale writing the writers did a wonderful job of making their stories gothic material that is exciting and eerie. American Gothic Tales includes forty-six short stories that range from the 18th century to present time. Also ranging from Puritan Paranoia to Biological Surrealism. American Gothic Tales includes stories that will make you wonder and make you think. American Gothic Tales is a wonderful book full of some of the best gothic tales. Lisa Tuttle's Replacements and Ray Bradbury's The Veldt are two of my favorite stories. I would recommend taking the time to read some of these amazingly strange stories and you will enjoy them as much as I did.
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