Alberto Manguel’s anthologies of fantastic literature (Black Water, The Book of Fantastic Literature and Black Water 2, More Tales of the Fantastic) are, excuse the well-deserved pun, excellent as well as supernatural. The stories are all examples of good literature, all page-turners, and all are accompanied by very interesting and often illuminating introductions written by Manguel himself. It is unacceptable that such a valuable anthology is out of print; however, used copies are not unheard of and are often reasonably priced.
If nothing else, these volumes are a who’s who of excellent writers and a photocopy of the contents will serve anyone as a useful to-read list.
In the first volume, the very first story is Julio Cortazar’s haunting “House Taken Over” and it will sell you on the anthology better than any praise of mine. In his introduction to the story, Manguel quotes Pablo Neruda who once said of Cortazar, “Anyone who doesn’t read Cortazar is doomed. Not to read him is a serious invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who has never tasted peaches. He would quietly become sadder, noticeably paler, and probably, little by little, he would lose his hair.” This grave consequence certainly also applies in lesser degree to any person unlucky enough to miss out on this anthology.
Here are some of the luminous authors featured within:
Julio Cortazar, Tennessee Williams, Edith Wharton, Rudyard Kipling, Ray Bradbury, Max Beerholm, Graham Greene, Charles Dickens, Jean Cocteau, W. Somerset Maugham, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Jorge Luis Borges, Isak Dinesen, Herman Hesse, Italo Calvino, Alexander Pushkin, Robert Louis Stevens, D. H. Lawrence, Hilaire Belloc, H. G. Wells, Vladimir Nabokov, Cynthia Ozick, Oscar Wilde, Franz Kafka, Walter de la Mare, Henry James, Hans Christian Anderson, E. M. Forster, O. Henry…
And those are just some of the authors from the first volume.
I recommend it deeply, passionately, with the enthusiasm of the unabashedly earnest.