The standard short story syllabus relies on a canon of realist short fiction; when I teach, I like to add a dash of the fantastic. Tzvetan Todorov, in The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre, defined the chief quality of the fantastic as ‘that hesitation experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting a supernatural event.’ These in-between stories occupy a liminal space between literary and genre fiction, between belief and disbelief, borderlands which Michael Chabon elegantly makes the case for in his essay ‘Trickster In A Suit Of Lights’ (Maps And Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands, McSweeney’s 2008). All these stories contain fantastical elements, some dreamlike, others straightforwardly speculative or deliberately metafictional.

One thought on “Introduction

  1. Check out Library of America two-volume set, “American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny.”
    Vol 2 includes a really wild Chabon story, “The God of Dark Laughter.”


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