Alberto Manguel - anthologist extraordinaire - put together this definitive collection of fabulist fiction almost twenty years ago, and it's yet to be surpassed. It covers an immense range of themes and an eclectic international mix of writers. Moreover, it's one of the few anthologies in which almost every story appeals. What appeals less, however, is Manguel's immensely irritating habit of revealing key elements of most of the stories in his pithy introductions. Such editorial spoiling is always annoying, but it's especially frustrating when applied to 'fantastic' fiction because so much of its effect depends on mystery, surprise endings, and the wonderful disorientation of not knowing precisely what is going on. Here, story after story is derailed by Manguel telling us up front that it's a 'time travel story' or a 'ghost story', or how it ends, or that it achieves its effect in a particular way. My recommendation is that you read the introductions only after you've read each story - and do read them, because apart from spoilers, they quite often reveal savvy observations, unusual connections, and interesting biographical notes. Dates of composition for each story (where known) would have been a helpful addition. You can in some cases deduce these from the copyright acknowledgements at the front of the book, but not always. Manguel's preface to the volume is illuminating: it strikes just the right balance between personal memoir, academic apparatus and useful information.
Bring back this astounding anthology.
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 20 years ago
I have a very old, bent copy of this incredible anthology that's falling apart because I've read it through six times. What's so great about it is that editor Alberto Manguel understands that the term, "fantastic," does not preclude the sublime. Entries here range from slow creepers like Julio Cortazar's unsettling "House Taken Over" and Horacio Quiroga's "The Feather Pillow," to more classically fantastic fare such as Poe's "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" and Ray Bradbury's "The Playground." What's more, Manguel does not limit his sources to North and South American fiction. The multinational anthology includes entries from France, Germany, Italy, Denmark and Japan. The more than 70 entries are also a great sampling of over a century of world literature. A comparable sequel, "Blackwater 2," followed, but it's this one that will leave you chilled, stunned and pensive after every selection.
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