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Black Water #1

Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature

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This huge anthology offers a kaleidoscope of brilliant writing from the Magi of the imagination. Alberto Manguel has selected 72 fantastic tales from life on the edge of the twilight zone, with stories from Marguerite Yourcenar, Herman Hesse, Italo Calvino, Vladimir Nabokov, and many, many more. This is a collection of irresistible masterpieces, many of which have never before appeared in the English language.

Fantastic literature Manguel writes in his introduction, makes use of our everyday world as a facade through which the undefinable appears, hinting at the half-forgotten dreams of our imagination. Unlike tales of fantasy, fantastic literature deals with what can be best defined as the impossible seeping into the possible, what Wallace Stevens calls black water breaking into reality. Fantastic literature never really explains everything, it thrives on surprise, on the unexpected logic that is born from its own rules.


House taken over by Julio Cortázar
How love came to Professor Guildea by Robert S. Hichens
Climax for a ghost story by I.A. Ireland
The mysteries of the Joy Rio by Tennessee Williams
Pomegranate seed by Edith Wharton
Venetian masks by Adolfo Bioy Casares
The wish house by Rudyard Kipling
The playground by Ray Bradbury
Importance by Manuel Mujica Láinez
Enoch Soames by Max Beerbohm
A visitor from down under by L.P. Hartley
Laura by Saki
An injustice revealed
A little place off the Edgware Road by Graham Greene
From "A School Story" by M.R. James
The signalman by Charles Dickens
The tall woman by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón
A scent of mimosa by Francis King
Death and the gardener by Jean Cocteau
Lord Mountdrago by W. Somerset Maugham
The sick gentleman's last visit by Giovanni Papini
Insomnia by Virgilio Piñera
The storm by Jules Verne
A dream (from The Arabian Nights Entertainments)
The facts in the case of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe
Split second by Daphne du Maurier
August 25, 1983 by Jorge Luis Borges
How Wang-Fo was saved by Marguerite Yourcenar
From "Peter and Rosa" by Isak Dinesen
Tattoo by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki
John Duffy's brother by Flann O'Brien
Lady into fox by David Garnett
Father's last escape by Bruno Schulz
A man by the name of Ziegler by Hermann Hesse
The Argentine ant by Italo Calvino
The lady on the grey by John Collier
The queen of spades by Alexander Pushkin
Of a promise kept by Lafcadio Hearn
The wizard postponed by Juan Manuel
The monkey's paw by W.W. Jacobs
The bottle imp by Robert Louis Stevenson
The rocking-horse winner by D.H. Lawrence
Certain distant suns by Joanne Greenburg
The third bank of the river by João Guimarães Rosa
Home by Hilaire Belloc
The door in the wall by H.G. Wells
The friends by Silvina Ocampo
Et in sempiternum pereant by Charles Williams
The captives of Longjumeau by Léon Bloy
The visit to the museum by Vladimir Nabakov
Autumn Mountain by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
The sight by Brian Moore
Clorinda by André Pieyre de Mandiargues
The pagan rabbi by Cynthia Ozick
The fisherman and his soul by Oscar Wilde
The bureau d'echange de maux by Lord Dunsany
The ones who walk away from Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin
In the penal colony by Franz Kafka
A dog in Durer's etching "The Knight, Death and the Devil" by Marco Denevi
The large ant by Howard Fast
The lemmings by Alex Comfort
The grey ones by J.B. Priestley
The feather pillow by Horacio Quiroga
Seaton's aunt by Walter de la Mare
The friends of the friends by Henry James
The travelling companion by Hans Christian Andersen
The curfew tolls by Stephen Vincent Benet
The state of grace by Marcel Aymé
The story of a panic by E.M. Forster
An invitation to the hunt by George Hitchcock
From the "American Notebooks" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The dream by O. Henry

967 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1984

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About the author

Alberto Manguel

214 books1,599 followers
Alberto Manguel (born 1948 in Buenos Aires) is an Argentine-born writer, translator, and editor. He is the author of numerous non-fiction books such as The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (co-written with Gianni Guadalupi in 1980) and A History of Reading (1996) The Library at Night (2007) and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey: A Biography (2008), and novels such as News From a Foreign Country Came (1991).

Manguel believes in the central importance of the book in societies of the written word where, in recent times, the intellectual act has lost most of its prestige. Libraries (the reservoirs of collective memory) should be our essential symbol, not banks. Humans can be defined as reading animals, come into the world to decipher it and themselves.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,325 reviews11.6k followers
August 4, 2021

Alberto Manguel - Argentine-Canadian anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist and editor. Alberto is surely among the very greatest readers of books and lovers of world literature.

Black Water collects 72 tales of the fantastic by such authors as Jean Cocteau, Marguerite Yourcenar, Herman Hesse, Italo Calvino, Vladimir Nabokov, H.G.Wells, Franz Kafka and Ursula K. LeGuin. There is one story I particularly enjoy from a less well known author from Argentina, Manuel Mujica Láinez, and it is this story I have made the focus of my review. Hope you enjoy and take the opportunity to explore this outstanding collection on your own.

IMPORTANCE by Manuel Mujica Láinez
Great Lady: Mrs. Hermosilla del Fresno, widow, lady of very great importance, lives in her huge mansion with her many servants and presides over all the city’s important charities and parties. Great writers such as de Maupassant and Balzac have always understood one of the perfect ingredients for a good short story is a character puffed up by all their wealth and social standing. Manuel Mujica Láinez was familiar with the precariousness of family wealth: born into a distinguished and wealthy lineage of Buenos Aries nobility, by the time the family line reached his parents and Manuel, the vast majority of wealth vanished. Manuel had to earn a living as a literary critic and art critic for the city’s leading newspaper.

Chink in the Armor: Unfortunately, there is one small fact diminishing the Señora’s splendid importance: her family background is somewhat less than splendid. That’s right, sad but true, she comes from a dubious bloodline. Also unfortunate for Señora, certain obscure relatives occasionally have the temerity to pop up at the wrong time forcing Señora to cloak their kinship with a wry smile and arched glance “while her vanity spits and snarls inside her like a crouching tiger.” Ah, a second valuable ingredient for a good short story featuring a puffed up character: a hidden flaw.

Piety Counts: Señora believes in God as well as in heaven and hell. And equally notable, Señora also firmly believes, a belief bolstered by her assistants and employees, that she has unquestionably earned her rightful place in Paradise. Such a worldview as the Señora’s has always amused me, a worldview shared by fundamentalists of whatever stripe I’ve encountered: there’s a heaven and hell and I’m the one going to heaven. All the rest of you people who don’t believe exactly what I believe will go to hell – good riddance!

The Fantastic: As it turns out, there’s an excellent reason why this story is included in Alberto Manguel's anthology of fantastic literature: one morning Señora wakes up only to discover she is dead. That’s right, all her very, very important servants gather in her room, wailing and crying over the fact that their beloved Señora has died. Of course, Señora is frightened and a tad astonished at this event since deep down Señora really and truly believed she is immortal. Let’s face it, all of us are not that different from Señora – a characteristically human way of viewing life: suffering, old age and especially death are things that happen to other people, certainly not me since, well . . . life is all about me!

The Unexpected: After one hour, two hours, three hours, Señora thinks enough is enough, where are heavenly angels to carry me off to paradise? Instead, exactly the beings she does not want to appear, appear: her dubious cousins, nephews and, damn, her most dreaded half-sister show up in open view of those upper crust ladies Señora has always tried her hardest to impress. Oh, my, what a bummer for someone who has spent their life molding an identity around wealth, status and bloodline. Sidebar: In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition with their Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead), the biggest mistake we can make at the time of our death is to cling to our past life and relationships rather than letting go.

Bad News: Señora's upper crust lady friends actually exchange pleasantries with her lowly relatives rather than paying any attention to her. What is happening here? Señora grows impatient, life is not cooperating with her wishes and desires. On top of this, after six distasteful, highly unpleasant days, Señora’s lawyer shows up on the scene and, contrary to her interests in perpetuating her good name by leaving her wealth to her chosen charities as clearly expressed in her will, the nefarious rascal denies there is any such will and boldly states all her monies will be distributed to her relatives. Ahhh! Señora wants to raise her arms to heaven and shout out the truth, but, alas, inhabiting a ghostly, otherworldly space, she cannot move her limbs or open her mouth.

Even Worse: The bad news continues, her cousins, nephews and half-sister move into her house, rummage through her drawers and closets, put on her clothes and jewelry, have lewd sex on her bed right next to her ghostly body, speak of her as prudish, vain and haughty. Here is how Manuel Mujica Láinez ends his tale: “Until, gradually, Mrs Hermosilla del Fresno (who cannot even escape into the haven of madness) understands, with surprise and despair, the she will never be taken away, not even to be guided to an unexpected Hell. Because this, however strange, absurd, unconventional and antitheological it might seem, this is Hell.”

Manuel Mujica Láinez (1910-1984) - Argentine novelist, essayist, literary critic and art critic
Profile Image for Jonathan.
911 reviews923 followers
November 8, 2018
Quite probably the best selection of short stories I have ever read. Not a dud among them, and plenty of the obscure and unusual as well. Plus, in terms of the big names, I had never read The Signal-Man by Dickens, but thought it was bloody brilliant.
Profile Image for Falkor.
21 reviews
August 1, 2007
This superb collection of fantasy stories includes a few famous, widely anthologized classics such as “The Monkey’s Paw,” but mostly offers up choice specimens of unjustly neglected works from both major and lesser known authors. The stories tend toward dark fantasy, with some that could be considered outright horror—Julio Cortazar’s “House Taken Over” is five pages of super concentrated terror that will leave readers jumping at every noise. A common theme unifying this diverse group of stories is a lack of explanation for why unearthly things happen—no tortured scientific theory, no assumption of divine power, no logical reasoning or metaphysical speculation can explain the strange events recorded in these pages.

Authors include those famous for their fantastic creations—Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, Franz Kafka, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Jorge Louis Borges, H.G. Wells—and others better known for other genres—Oscar Wilde, Graham Greene, Edith Wharton, Tennessee Williams, W. Somerset Maugham, Vladimir Nabokov, E.M. Forster.
Profile Image for Mike.
416 reviews43 followers
January 19, 2014
So enjoyable that I regret that I've come to the end. I really recommend it if you can find a copy.
Profile Image for Jeanne .
66 reviews8 followers
June 14, 2015

I highly recommend this collection for fans of fantastic literature or of short stories in general. You will love most, hate some and if you are like me, there will be a few you just don't even understand (what was that bus scene about in "Visitor From Down Under"??). Whether you take your time working your way through this massive collection as I did (read over 20 years) or read all 967 pages in one sitting - it is worth the time.

I was a little sad to finish this book after all the years we have spent together but luckily I recently found a copy of Black Water 2: More Tales of the Fantastic in a used bookstore. I plan to finish this collection faster than than the first volume, shooting for five years this time.

Profile Image for Gary Parish.
4 reviews
June 12, 2011
A massive collection of short stories dealing with the supernatural and the fantastic, Manguel does a superb job of editing and selecting the pieces in this anthology. Some are humorous, some are darkly sinister, some confuse you and some appeal to your sense of justice or right & wrong. I read this cover-to-cover on and off over the course of a year and it always entertained me to no end, highly recommended!
Profile Image for blushenka.
96 reviews11 followers
December 30, 2014
This book is FANTASTIC. Heh. It's a great collection of tales, kudos to the editor for picking them so well. Some of them I knew from before, but not many. I have not found a single story in this collection that I did not enjoy and some of them were quite outstanding.
Among the ones I found outstanding: Poe's The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, Max Beerbohm's Enoch Soames, Dickens' The Signalman, Saki's Laura, David Garnett's Lady Into Fox, Marguerite Yourcenar's How Wang-Fo was Saved, Isak Dinesen's From 'Peter and Rosa', Junichiro Tanizaki's Tattoo, Stevenson's The Bottle Imp, Silvina Ocampo's The Friends, Ryonosuke Akutagawa's The Mountain, Oscar Wilde's The Fisherman and his Soul, Ursuka K LeGuin's The Ones who walk away from Omelas... But really, they are all gems.

Highly recommended book 10/10 (5/5)
Profile Image for Sudarshan.
54 reviews8 followers
December 31, 2022
Finally managed to listen to this 39 hrs long anthology of superb fantastic stories. The feeling of completing this has been one of the most satisfying literary experiences of my life. This anthology is rich in imagination. Some of the stories have flown past my head completely. Those that have stayed have made a lasting impact on me. I have been recommending this anthology ever since I began listening to it. Despite my effort I have not been able to find this book in text format. If you can, this book is one to be read and re-read.
485 reviews136 followers
October 10, 2015


"Because you shelved SHOE LUST a few recommendations in Fantasy."

I must say this was The Last Thing I expected when my fascination with Things Historical had me pouncing on the Current Development of the Humble Shoe in "Shoe Lust" at our Local Bookstore in Dulwich Hill about 12 months ago. It is Fascinating and often pretty Wild.
As are the stories in the Black Water Anthology.

This Very Kindly Attendance of Goodreads had me rummaging among their group of Suggested Books;some old favourites of the strange, weird and wonderful were there: Japanese Tales,some Chilren's stories, the Arthurian Legends and LO!! good old Alberto Manguel's Black Water Anthology - being 72 stories from a huge range of talented writers, Known and Un-, and of various Nationalities.
The very first one I can still recall vividly - "House Taken Over" by Julio Cortazar. But I hadn't remembered this until I interrupted this review to fetch "Black Water" from one of my bedroom bookcases.

It wasn't there on the top shelf !!!!
It came as a shock...but another awaited me.
There was another white binding much thicker than the Black Water book and it read:

WHITE FIRE: Further Fantastic Literature Alberto Manguel PICADOR

This book had been sitting there for 25 years as its dusty top pages showed as also its publishing date of 1990.
I located "Black Water" in my bookshelf lined hallway very quickly.
I had read it sometime in the 1980's,not 1990 as I'd thought, and obviously bought the second volume on the strength of the enjoyment given by the first which I recall enjoying.
MORE stories in this second volume though...941 pages.
I check "Black Water...mmm!!.....967 pages !!!!
So the fat book has less content than the slimmer book.
OK,I am already dipping my Big Toe into what promises to be...fantasia!

I am quite happy to embrace this delusion,illusion,fact or fantasy...
"Shoe Lust" and its extremes has led me into more weird literature
and who am I to complain !!!!

So I will not be immediately settling down to a RE-READ of "Black Water" but taking on the Thicker although Shorter Sequel which only seems proper...go where the Fantastical takes You, eh !!!
Profile Image for Sharon Barrow Wilfong.
1,117 reviews3,942 followers
October 24, 2018
This is a thick anthology of stories about horror, suspense, the supernatural and the psychological, and also some science fiction. The authors are from all over the world, including both classic and contemporary. The book is almost a thousand pages long so I will not try to list all of the authors, but here are a few:

Tennessee Williams
Edith Wharton
Rudyard Kipling
Ray Bradbury
Graham Greene
M.R. James
W. Somerset Maugham
Jean Cocteau
Jules Verne
Edgar Allen Poe
Daphne de Maurier
Herman Hesse
Ursula K. LeGuin

What I especially liked is that the editor, Alberto Manguel, a writer from Argentina, included a great many Latin writers, from Spain, Central and South America and also Italy. I was not familiar with most of these since not many anthologies include them. They were different and had a definite style of their own, different from the Northern European and Anglo-American writers and added spice and flavor to this collection.

This collection was a wonderful discovery and I am glad to have it as a part of my library.
Profile Image for flannery.
360 reviews23 followers
September 22, 2014
So far, SO incredible! Alberto Manguel wrote one of my favorite reference books, "A Dictionary of Imaginary Places," and this is as imaginative, as literate, as carefully considered a collection as any I have ever, ever read, each piece lovingly introduced by the editor with all the necessary biography to put each piece in context and also bridge time & place seamlessly... from Jean Cocteau to Jules Verne to Borges and O. Henry with not a page out of place... highly recommended, one of the best anthologies I've ever encountered.
Profile Image for Martin Cosby.
Author 4 books21 followers
January 8, 2013
I read this anthology many years ago, and it made a big impression upon me. Many of the stories are deep, literary examples of fiction, whereas I had been more used to "horror" collections. A thoroughly engrossing read through different kinds of writing, never less than excellent, I have re-read it many times ... and am about to once more. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 26 books20 followers
March 7, 2013
This generous anthology is jam-packed with fascinating, instructive work and was my introduction to many magical writers beyond the traditional English-speaking fare. Delighted to discover that a second volume was published back in 1990 - heading to pick up a copy now...
Profile Image for Martin.
171 reviews3 followers
August 3, 2016
This collection is essential to anyone who loves The Twilight Zone in terms of fiction. I read this many years ago and am planning to go through it again. Chilling, intriguing, mystifying, unsettling and totally engrossing. The art of short story writing in one volume. Perfection.

Profile Image for Jacob.
118 reviews23 followers
March 2, 2009
My copy has the same ISBN, but the cover is a detail from George Tooker's awesome The Subway. This would be a perfect bedtime reader if not for its bulk.
Profile Image for Freder.
Author 17 books9 followers
October 24, 2009
Manguel stays well away from the sensational, and goes for mood and depth.
Profile Image for Bill Shears.
Author 1 book16 followers
April 27, 2011
Read through it ever decade-and-a-half or so. A fantastic collection of fantastic short stories from around the world.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
925 reviews
February 2, 2015
Superb. Just keep dipping in and out and you will continually find yourself covered in a viscous substance, the nature of which you can neither fully discern, nor fully wash off.....
Profile Image for Neven.
Author 3 books415 followers
January 26, 2015
A wonderful collection—uneven as they usually are, but the high notes are unforgettable. Hunt it down if you like hard-to-classify, weird fiction.
Profile Image for Mira.
150 reviews18 followers
September 8, 2020
My advice, never ever attempt listening to the audiobook. If you're going to read this anthology, actually do that and read it.
The voice talent is absolutely horrible, and despite that some of the stories in here are actually okay, I just can't handle listening to the reader anymore. So, until I get my hands on either a physical or e-copy of this book I won't be finishing it, I'm honestly not that masochistic to continue torturing myself with the audiobook!
Profile Image for Milen Kindekov.
15 reviews13 followers
August 3, 2017
I must say, this was an amazing anthology. As with all compilations, there are always hits and misses. Stories which piqued my interest, others that were a bit drab that caused me to doze off. I've found a large amount of new authors which I will be reading more of, I've increased my respect for others as well. I was really impressed with a few of the oriental stories. Definitely will be looking for more of these. The excerpts before each story were interesting and a lot of the times I'd find myself browsing for more information on the author/story.

Average Rating across all stories an even 4*/5. Albeit this average, I admire that Alberto Manguel has layed out his most loved stories in a great format, for us to share in the experience. I will definitely be picking up the second volume of stories!

I've highlighted some of my personal favorites. The story that struck me most however was 'The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas'. This has now been with me for the past week, while I was finishing up the rest of the anthology. The question I have been pondering is: At what price is happiness morally acceptable?

Julio Cortazar - House Taken Over - *****
Robert S. Hitchens - How Love Came to Professor Guildea - ****
I.A. Ireland - Climax for a Ghost Story - ***
Tennessee Williams - The Mysteries of the Joy Rio - *****
Edith Wharton - Pomegranate Seed - ***
Adolfo Bioy Casares - Venetian Masks - *****
Rudyard Kipling - The Wish House - *
Ray Bradbury - The Playground - *****
Manuel Mujica Lainez - Importance - *****
Max Beerbohm - Enoch Soames - *****
L. P. Hartley - A Visitor from Down Under - **
Saki - Laura - **
Anonymous - An Injustice Revealed - ****
Graham Greene - A Little Place off the Edgware Road - **
M.R. James - From ‘A School Story’ - **
Charles Dickens - The Signalman - *****
Pedro Antonio de Alarcon - The Tall Woman - ****
Francis King - A Scent of Mimosa - *****
Jean Cocteau - Death and the Gardener - ****
William Somerset Maugham - Lord Mountdrago - ****
Giovanni Papini - The Sick Gentleman’s Last Visit - ****
Virgilio Pinera - Insomnia - ****
Jules Verne - The Storm - ***
Anonymous - A Dream - ***
Edgar Allan Poe - The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar - ****
Dauphe du Maurier - Split Second - ****
Jorge Luis Borges - August 25, 1983 - *****
Margueritte Yourcenar - How Wang-Fo Was Saved - *****
Isak Dinesen - From ‘Peter and Rosa’ - ****
Junichiro Tanizaki - Tattoo - *****
Flann O’Brien - John Duffy’s Brother - **
David Garnett - Lady Into Fox - ***
Bruno Schultz - Father’s Last Escape - ***
Hermann Hesse - A Man by the Name of Ziegler - ***
Italo Calvino - The Argentine Ant - *****
John Collier - The Lady on the Grey - ****
Alexander Pushkin - The Queen of Spades - *****
Lafcadio Hearn - Of a Promise Kept - *****
Juan Manuel - The Wizard Postponed - *****
W. W. Jacobs - The Monkey’s Paw - *****
Robert Louis Stevenson - The Bottle Imp - *****
D.H. Lawrence - The Rocking-horse Winner - ****
Joanne Greenburg - Certain Distant Suns - ***
Joao Guimaraes Rosa - The Third Bank of the River - ****
Hilaire Belloc - Home - ****
H.G. Wells - The Door in the Wall - ****
Silvina Ocampo - The Friends - *****
Charles Williams - Et in Sempiternum Pereant - ***
Leon Bloy - The Captives of Longjumeau - ****
Vladimir Nabokov - The Visit to the Museum - ****
Ryunosuke Akutagawa - ‘Autumn Mountain’ - *****
Brian Moore - The Sight - ***
Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues - Clorinda - ***
Cynthia Ozick - The Pagan Rabi - **
Oscar Wilde - The Fisherman and his Soul - *****
Lord Dunsany - The Bureau d’Echange de Maux - *****
Ursula K. LeGuin - The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas - *****
Franz Kafka - In the Penal Colony - *****
Marco Denevi - A Dog in Durer’s Etching ‘The Knight, Death and The Devil’ - *****
Howard Fast - The Large Ant - *****
Alex Comfort - The Lemmings - ****
J.B. Priestly - The Grey Ones - ***
Horacio Quiroga - The Feather Pillow - *****
Walter de la Mare - Seaton’s Aunt - ****
Henry James - The Friends of the Friends - *
Hans Christian Anderson - The Travelling Companion - *****
Stephen Vincent Benet - The Curfew Tolls - ***
Marcel Ayme - The State of Grace - *****
E.M. Forster - The Story of a Panic - ****
George Hitchcock - An Invitation to the Hunt - *****
Nathaniel Hawthorne - From the ‘American Notebooks’ - ***
O. Henry - The Dream - ****
Profile Image for Jesse Field.
736 reviews36 followers
April 5, 2020
As I picked my way randomly through this collection over the last few months (I think I first picked this up in November 2019), it gradually dawned on me that Sr. Manguel's own circle of Latin American writers are great lovers of the fantastic, making this a great way to acquaint oneself with the many names beyond Borges that we Anglophones rarely take notice of, like Adolfo Bioy Casares, Manuel Mujica Láinez, Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, Virgilio Piñera, and Silvina Ocampo. I think Ocampo's "The Friends" is among the best of these, with its studious young boy who is much darker than he seems. Such readings really help put Borges in context, and I hope I can turn back to this catalog after working my Spanish up a bit more to read these authors in the original.

Manguel includes chatty, but informative, introductory notes on each of the selections. He also supplies some extremely short selections, only a minute or so long on the audio file. Excerpts from Hawthorn's American Notebooks are quite interesting, especially for young writers looking to get started. More tiny moments are spent with Cocteau, in an intriguing sentence, "Climax for a Ghost Story," the brief set of ideas in "A School Story" and several more.

Really long stories occur, too. Daphne du Maurier's "Split Second" is the first story I've ever read of hers; she really does write the way Hitchcock makes us feel she might, with dignified women struggling against breakdown conditions. Cynthia Ozick's "The Pagan Rabbi" is probably the most successful and significant of the pieces, with a whole enthralling world of philosophy and religion in one salacious letter. I'm always surprised by how stilted I find Oscar Wilde's prose, and "The Fisherman and his Soul" is no exception, though I still plan to read it again for it's fascinating take on identity. Pushkin's "Queen of Spades" was actually the story that brought me to the collection, and it, too, is a gorgeous flash of wit, foreshadowing the work of Gogol to come soon after.

It took me a very long time to get through all of these, but it was quite a pleasure. I'm so fired up for anthologies again, remembering now how much I used to like such readings in my youth.
Profile Image for Shawn.
778 reviews225 followers
March 6, 2021

"The Rocking Horse Winner" by D.H. Lawrence - A boy verging on manhood becomes aware that his Upper-middle-class family is haunted by financial need and contrives to utilize his skill at picking winning race horses to help them. This was a perennial school-read when I was a lad, but it's been awhile. It's still a glittering little piece of masterful writing, just enough detail, just enough dialogue. I had a friend at school (who later went on to opening a successful playhouse in Los Angeles) who was convinced that the story and specifically the climax should be read with a Freudian interpretation and while I scoffed at the time, I can see it now.

I had reason to reread "The Wish House" by Rudyard Kipling and so thought I should stick the review here for my inevitable reread of this amazing collection.

Two old Sussex women (both of the "cook/maid/servant" lower classes) start reflecting on their romantic pasts, and one explains how her persistent medical problem with her leg is related to her tempestuous desire for a certain man, and a deal she made with supernatural forces so as to channel all harm that would come to him instead into her own body.

This is simply an incredibly well-told, eerie and moving story. The "taking on of harm" is seen as a decision born out of desire, for a rakish man who can never commit (alas!), and is much the sadder for that. The Sussex dialect is nicely handled. Truly a masterful tale, and that's not even going into the Gypsy belief, set down here, in a "Wish House", an abandoned house which harbors a weird spirit, called a Token, which agrees to transact the spiritual/physical martyrdom between those who love. Great.
Profile Image for P..
2,416 reviews78 followers
December 30, 2014
This is a great collection! There are some big names and a lot of South American authors I have never heard of. The cover art rules. Some of the themes can get old if you read them all at once, so it is good to space things out. My favorite story was actually the first one, by Julio Cortazar, but the rest of the book wasn't disappointing. Just not as great.
Profile Image for Kevin Tole.
495 reviews21 followers
May 29, 2017
To be honest, I hardly 'read' it, just dipped into it every now and again and in the end, it sat on the shelf in the khazi ready to be excised during excision.

Like most (probably) I read the ones I knew well before trying the rest.

I really couldn't tell you much more about it. But in the end I think I'd rather read the full bhoona by these fellas and fella-ettes rather than a motette.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
487 reviews
July 2, 2013
Memory suggests I read this as a kid by the hall light when I couldn't sleep, and that I was too creeped out to close my eyes. But by 1984 I was living in an off-campus apartment, paying my own bills. This book does that to you--makes you feel all small and helpless.
Profile Image for KnNaRfF.
37 reviews15 followers
May 9, 2016
Excellent collection of dark and strange tales. Some were familiar bur there were quite a few new to me.
Profile Image for Ken Krimstein.
Author 3 books51 followers
December 17, 2015
a magisterial collection of wonders by the inimitable editor manguel...

the first of his many amazing curated collections of his i've read..
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