I jotted a quick note on Marjorie Sandor’s The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows last spring. I finally bought a copy last week, and settled down with it this weekend.
As horror anthologies go, it has an even broader scope than I expected. Last year I described it as “a generous new collection of classic and new horror fiction from the four corners of the globe,” and that’s true, more or less. There’s stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann (Germany), Edgar Allan Poe (USA), Ambrose Bierce (USA), Guy de Maupassant (France), Anton Chekhov (Russia), Franz Kafka (Czech Republic), H. P. Lovecraft (The Outer Void), and others.
But in its 555 pages are also more contemporary tales by Kelly Link, Jonathan Carroll, Joan Aiken, Steven Millhauser, and many others. In her lengthy Los Angeles Review of Books review, Rachel Pastan writes:
Though containing fewer than three dozen pieces, The Uncanny Reader feels remarkably generous and comprehensive… [Sandor writes], “Every writer in this collection strips away the armor of familiar, overused language… they make us see and hear anew.” It is this conceit that makes room under one sprawling mansard roof for a horror story like Poe’s “Berenice,” in which a crazed lover disinters his beloved in order to rip her teeth out of her head… a surrealist story like Bruno Schultz’s “The Birds,” in which the narrator’s father turns the family home into an incubator for exotic eggs… and a fantastical story like Karen Russell’s “Haunting Olivia” in which two brothers use a pair of magic pink underwater goggles to hunt for their dead sister’s ghost…
Other standouts: Shirley Jackson’s energetic and urban “Paranoia”; Chris Adrian’s surprising suicide-on-Nantucket story, “The Black Square”; and Kelly Link’s haunted and haunting tale of domestic life, “Stone Animals,” [in which] a family moves out of an apartment in New York City and into a big house in the country… The unexpected and poignantly human way in which this house turns out to be haunted is one of Link’s great achievements.
Here’s the complete table of contents.
Introduction by Marjorie Sandor
“The Sandman” by E. T. A. Hoffmann (1816)
“Bernice” by Edgar Allan Poe (1835)
“One of Twins” by Ambrose Bierce (1888)
“On the Water” by Guy de Maupassant (1890
“Oysters” by Anton Chekhov (1884)
“Pomegranate Seed” by Edith Wharton (1931)
“The Stoker” by Franz Kafka (1927)
“Decay” by Marjorie Bowen (1923)
“The Music of Erich Zann” by H. P. Lovecraft (1922)
“The Birds” by Bruno Schulz (1934)
“The Usher” by Felisberto Hernández (1947)
“The Waiting Room” by Robert Aickman (1956)
“Paranoia” by Shirley Jackson (1976)
“The Helper” by Joan Aiken (1979)
“The Jesters” by Joyce Carol Oates (2013)
“The Devil and Dr. Tuberose” by John Herdman (1993)
“Phantoms” by Steven Millhauser (2010)
“On Jacob’s Ladder” by Steve Stern (2012)
“The Panic Hand” by Jonathan Carroll (1989)
“Moriya” by Dean Paschal (2003)
“The Puppets” by Jean-Christophe Duchon-Doris (1994)
“Old Mrs. J” by Yoko Ogawa (2013)
“Whitework” by Kate Bernheimer (2007)
“Stone Animals” by Kelly Link (2004)
“Tiger Mending” by Aimee Bender (2013)
“The Black Square” by Chris Adrian (2009)
“Foundation” by China Miéville (2005)
“Gothic Night” by Mansoura Ez-Eldin (2011)
“Reindeer Mountain” by Karin Tidbeck (2012)
“Muzunga” by C. Namwali Serpell (2007)
“Haunting Olivia” by Karen Russell (2006)
The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows was published on February 24, 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin. It is 576 pages, priced at $21.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. I bought a new copy (remaindered) for $4.99 from BookOutlet USA at Amazon.com.
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