Book: Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque

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Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque

Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Publisher: Plume Books

One of American’s foremost authors ventures into dark, uncharted territories of the human psyche in a collection of stories that rival the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Oates is the 1994 recipient of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement given by the Horror Writers of America.


The central haunting of this collection of 16 tales is not anything so concrete as a building haunted by a ghost, but rather the interior haunting of a human being by their ever-shifting sense of self. As Joyce Carol Oates puts it (in a fascinating afterword on the nature and history of the grotesque), “The subjectivity that is the essence of the human is also the mystery that divides us irrevocably from others…all others are, in the deepest sense, strangers.” These stories, while all dark, cover a range of styles and subjects. Some are vividly violent; several are subtle and/or ironic. The New York Times praised this collection for “pull[ing] off what this author does best: exploring the tricky juncture between tattered social fabric and shaky psyche, while serving up some choice macabre moments.”

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