St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers Edition 1. (St. James Guide to Writers Series)

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9781558622067: St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers Edition 1. (St. James Guide to Writers Series)

This exciting new guide to historic and contemporary horror, ghost and gothic writers features the men and women who've kept readers turning pages into the wee hours of the night. Your patrons with a penchant for this genre will find all the details they need to answer their questions on 450 authors.

Author entries feature a biography; a complete list of the author's publications; selected critical and biographical works; and comments by the entrant, when available. A critical essay written by an expert in the field helps readers better understand the author and his or her works.

Coverage includes these authors:

  • Clive Barker
  • Stephen Vincent Benet
  • Mary Higgins Clark
  • Douglass Clegg
  • Isak Dinesen
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Shirley Jackson
  • Doris Lessing
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Dorothy Macardle
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Anne Rice
  • Martin Cruz Smith
  • Fay Weldon
  • Edith Wharton
  • And many others
A title index helps readers find entries even when they're unsure of the author's name. A comprehensive reading list helps your patrons find reference and critical sources to continue their research.

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Review:

In his preface to this encyclopedic reference, Dennis Etchison is typically eloquent in defending horror literature, the power of which "derives from its predilection for addressing the fundamental questions of life and death, the drama that does not need to be melodramatized.... The problem is that this requires a greater degree of attention to style, mood and the connotative aspects of language than is found in most fiction, and that the better you do your job the more the reader is likely to expect an extraordinary payoff at the end--something larger, deeper, and truer, justifying the trust that has been extended to you. In that respect a fine horror story may well be the most difficult of writing extant, excepting poetry. Because it is about the Great Truth, it ultimately calls for nothing less than authentic knowledge, or at least an intimation of it, the kind of understanding of one's characters and their problems that can only come from personal insight. This is something that is not easy to fake."

Etchison's remarks may pertain but indirectly to the quality of the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, & Gothic Writers as a reference, but they're worth quoting to illustrate the earnest intent behind this volume. The sense of horror being valued for what it attempts as well as for what it achieves is present on every page.

The format of this huge reference is similar to that of the other St. James Guides: each of the more than 425 entries (mostly English-language authors, with a couple dozen who write in other languages) contains a brief biography, a complete list of works (divided into horror and nonhorror titles), and a signed critical essay. The A to Z entries fill nearly 700 double-column oversized pages--a lot of useful information. Also included are three indices (name, nationality, title) and a reading list of nonfiction writing about horror, ghost, and gothic literature.

The editors intend this as a companion volume to the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers. --Fiona Webster

From Booklist:

This companion to the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers [RBB My 1 96] includes more than 400 writers in English and 25 foreign-language writers. In the first volume, the editor explained how difficult it is to separate horror and fantasy since much fantasy contains horrific elements and much horror relies on the fantastic, so these two volumes were necessary. The kinds of fiction covered here are "horror novels, dark fantasies, ghost stories, gothic novels, tales of terror, supernatural fictions, occult fantasies, black-magic stories, psychological thrillers, tales of unease, grand-guignol shockers, creepy stories, shudder-pulp fictions, contes cruels, uncanny stories, macabre fictions and weird tales." A few children's writers, such as Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine, are included. Only a small number of authors, among them Joan Aiken, Robert Holdstock, Fritz Leiber, and Fred Saberhagen, appear in the fantasy volume as well.

The format is the same one followed in most of the St. James guides: an alphabetical list of authors, a summary of biographical information, an extensive bibliography of works (primarily related to the genre, but other works are listed as well), a list of some secondary sources, and a critical analysis of the works and how they fit within the genre. The critical sections are signed by the contributors, whose credentials are provided in the back of the book. The work contains a name index with cross-references to the pseudonyms if applicable, a nationality index, a title index, and a very lengthy reading list.

The names one might expect are in here, including William Peter Blatty, Robin Cook, Stephen King, Ann Radcliffe, and Bram Stoker. But other writers who are not so closely associated with the genre, such as Charles Dickens and Walter Scott, are included as well. Writers one might encounter in a literature class, such as Shirley Jackson, Eudora Welty, and Edith Wharton, are also covered.

The high quality, consistency of approach, and large number of authors covered make this an excellent addition to the literary reference section. Although many of these writers can be found in sources such as Gale's Contemporary Authors or Dictionary of Literary Biography, the genre approach is very useful to students and teachers who are interested in horror, ghost stories, and gothic fiction. This title is needed to complete the set for libraries with the fantasy volume, and is a welcome addition to library collections needing general information on horror writers.

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