Reading for Halloween: A Treasury of American Horror Stories. Jeff Baker, October 30, 2022.

A Treasury of Terror

by Jeff Baker

Every year around Halloween I post something involving a selection of spooky tales for the season of Jack O’Lanterns and soaring witches. This year, something different; an entire anthology. In fact, an influential one, at least to me.

1988 was not a great year for me. I lost friends and family and was screwed-over on a promotion I’d been working for over the course of a year. I can count the good things that happened to me that year on less than one hand. One of them was I grabbed an anthology of horror stories in the library and sat down to read it one afternoon, simply because I had gotten curious about some of the writers used on the old Rod Serling’s Night Gallery” TV show, in particular H. P. Lovecraft.

I struck gold.

“A Treasury of American Horror Stories” published by Bonanza Books in 1985, edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Charles G. Waugh and Frank D. McSherry, Jr. features fifty-one short horror stories, one for every state in the union, plus Washington D. C. A variety of styles ranging from humor, psychological horror and supernatural tales involving monsters, ghosts, lunatics and the indescribable or generally undefinable.

The authors range from Manly Wade Wellman and Robert Bloch through Mark Twain, Jack London and Isaac Asimov. Lovecraft and King are represented, of course, as well as neglected authors like Robert Arthur.

The selections for the various states are interesting: Lovecraft’s stories are set in Massachusetts and Rhode Island; Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Isle of Voices” is set near Hawaii and North Carolina is the province of Manly Wade Wellman.

Some choices are naturals: the Wisconsin story is by Wisconsin native August Derleth, but Stephen King, oddly enough, does not represent Maine. (His “Children of the Corn” is a fine choice for a story for Nebraska.)

Besides the Lovecraft stories (“Haunter of the Dark” and “Pickman’s Model”) the stories that impressed me the most were “The Autopsy” by Michael Shea and “The Return to the Sabbath” by Robert Bloch. Reading the book on those air conditioned afternoons so long ago inspired me to try writing my own horror stories.

The stories in the book still hold up and the anthology is not too hard to find in libraries in used stores or online. Perfect reading for Halloween, or any time of year.

The Amazon link to the book is here:

This entry was posted in Anthologies, August Derleth, Books, Edward D. Hoch, Fantasy, Fiction, Ghost Story, H. P. Lovecraft,, Horror, Jack London, Manly Wade Wellman, Robert Arthur, Robert Bloch, Short-Stories, Stephen Vincent Benet. Bookmark the permalink.

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