I think I speak for many when I say that some of the the most widely anthologized horror stories are not the authors' best works. "The Repairer of Reputations" is a greater achievement than "The Yellow Sign," and "For the Blood is the Life" surpasses the over-rated "The Upper Berth." "The Jolly Corner" is not only the equal of "The Turn of the Screw," it is deeper and more multi-faceted. (Besides, the latter is too long for inclusion here, hence no "The Willows" or "The Mist.") Furthermore, while Library of America is about the "best," we need to examine our largely conditioned assumptions about what the best is. The conventional wisdom of the canon should not be followed with slavish obeisance. And lastly, an editor in Straub's position should not shackle himself to the standard of "the best" as the uppermost thought in his mind for every story selection, because there are other aims that should be striven for: breadth and scope, some kind of consistency of vision or recurrence of theme (as well as variation), and stories that represent something about the American landscape. An anthology like this is not the same as a collection of a single author's works: one wants the editor to bring a provocative perspective revealed through his story selection, not the least because this anthology is as much about the milieu of American writing as it is about the horror genre. For this reason, the omission of British writers should not be viewed as a weakness. On the contrary, it is liberating, for it allowed Straub to focus on an American Gothic context. And yes, some flat-out curve balls are thrown by Straub in his story selection, although it should be noted that some of his choices have been favored in recent years by other editors over stories that had traditionally been given priority for the better part of a century. Library of America is not just about looking backward but about looking forward as well. I am very happy they didn't release the same old anthology, although, bafflingly, that is what some seem to have wanted. New ground has truly been broken here.
Vol. 1, Contents:
Charles Brockden Brown, "Somnambulism: A Fragment"; Washington Irving, "The Adventure of the German Student"; Edgar Allan Poe, "Berenice"; Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"; Herman Melville, "The Tartarus of Maids"; Fitz-James O'Brien, "What Was It?"; Bret Harte, "The Legend of Monte del Diablo"; Harriet Prescott Spofford, "The Moonstone Mass"; W.C. Morrow, "His Unconquerable Enemy"; Sarah Orne Jewett, "In Dark New England Days"; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper"; Stephen Crane, "The Black Dog"; Kate Chopin. "Ma'ame Pelagie"; John Kendrick Bangs, "Thurlow's Christmas Story"; Robert W. Chambers, "The Repairer of Reputations"; Ralph Adams Cram, "The Dead Valley"; Madeline Yale Wynne, "The Little Room"; Gertrude Atherton, "The Striding Place"; Emma Francis Dawson, "An Itinerant House"; Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, "Luella Miller"; Frank Norris, "Grettir at Thorhall-stead"; Lafcadio Hearn, "Yuki-Onna"; F. Marion Crawford, "For the Blood Is the Life"; Ambrose Bierce, "The Moonlit Road"; Edward Lucas White, "Lukundoo"; Olivia Howard Dunbar, "The Shell of Sense"; Henry James, "The Jolly Corner"; Alice Brown, "Golden Baby"; Edith Wharton, "Afterward"; Willa Cather, "Consequences"; Ellen Glasgow, "The Shadowy Third"; Julian Hawthorne, "Absolute Evil"; Francis Stevens, "Unseen--Unfeared"; F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Seabury Quinn, "The Curse of Everard Maundy"; Stephen Vincent Benet, "The King of the Cats"; David H. Keller, "The Jelly-Fish"; Conrad Aiken, "Mr. Arcularis"; Robert E. Howard, "The Black Stone"; Henry S. Whitehead, "Passing of a God"; August Derleth, "The Panelled Room"; H.P. Lovecraft, "The Thing on the Doorstep"; Clark Ashton Smith, "Genius Loci"; Robert Bloch, "The Cloak"
Vol. 2, Contents:
John Collier, "Evening Primrose"; Fritz Leiber, "Smoke Ghost"; Tennessee Williams, "The Mysteries of the Joy Rio"; Jane Rice, "The Refugee"; Anthony Boucher, "Mr. Lupescu"; Truman Capote, "Miriam"; Jack Snow, "Midnight"; John Cheever, "Torch Song"; Shirley Jackson, "The Daemon Lover"; Paul Bowles, "The Circular Valley"; Jack Finney, "I'm Scared"; Vladimir Nabokov, "The Vane Sisters"; Ray Bradbury, "The April Witch"; Charles Beaumont, "Black Country"; Jerome Bixby, "Trace"; Davis Grubb, "Where the Woodbine Twineth"; Donald Wandrei, "Nightmare"; Harlan Ellison, "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"; Richard Matheson, "Prey"; T.E.D. Klein, "The Events at Poroth Farm"; Isaac Bashevis Singer, "Hanka"; Fred Chappell, "Linnaeus Forgets"; John Crowley, "Novelty"; Jonathan Carroll, "Mr Fiddlehead"; Joyce Carol Oates, "Family"; Thomas Ligotti, "The Last Feast of Harlequin"; Peter Straub, "A Short Guide to the City"; Jeff VanderMeer, "The General Who Is Dead"; Stephen King, "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French"; George Saunders, "Sea Oak"; Caitlin Kiernan, "The Long Hall on the Top Floor"; Thomas Tessier, "Nocturne"; Michael Chabon, "The God of Dark Laughter"; Joe Hill, "Pop Art"; Poppy Z. Brite, "Pansu"; Steven Millhauser, "Dangerous Laughter"; M. Rickert, "The Chambered Fruit"; Brian Everson, "The Wavering Knife"; Kelly Link, "Stone Animals"; Tim Powers, "Pat Moore"; Gene Wolfe, "The Little Stranger"; Benjamin Percy, "Dial Tone"