This book was published in 1981 and contained 41 short stories by as many writers. As far as could be determined, there were 36 writers from the U.S., 3 from Great Britain (Wells, Churchill, Campbell) and 2 (LeFanu, Stoker) from Ireland.
The stories ranged from the 1840s (Hawthorne, Poe) to the 1980s (Joyce Carol Oates, Elizabeth Morton). Two-thirds of the stories were from the postwar era.
From the early to mid-1800s, there were Hawthorne, Poe and LeFanu. From the late 1800s through World War II, there were Stoker, Bierce, Churchill, Wells, Henry James, Dreiser, Lovecraft, Faulkner, Woolrich and Bloch. Postwar writers included Capote, Sturgeon, Leiber, Kornbluth, Ray Russell, Disch, Adobe James, Hoch, Silverberg, Lutz, Wagner, Campbell, Evan Hunter, Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates. Many of the American authors included were also prominent in the crime, SF and fantasy genres, and their stories reflected these backgrounds.
Compared to, say, the stories in The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories and The Penguin Book of Horror Stories -- which contained mainly earlier works by British writers focused on the atmospheric and psychological -- the mostly recent stories here often seemed cruder and more obvious. Few were horrific or atmospheric. A handful of entertaining exceptions were Poe's "Hop-Frog" and Stoker's "The Squaw," both about revenge, Hunter's story about an edgy veteran who was pushed too far, Adobe James's story about an arrogant criminal who took on more than he could handle, Silverberg's tale set in a future dystopia and Lutz's story about a barman who enjoyed messing with his customers' minds. I was also glad to be introduced to the work of the SF writer Cyril Kornbluth, whose story contained a modern vampire.
- Publisher: Arbor House Pub Co (1 May 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0877953198
- ISBN-13: 978-0877953197
- Package Dimensions: 23.1 x 14.7 x 3.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 635 g
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