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A Terrifying Tour Of 'American Fantastic'

Author Peter Straub, whose novels include Ghost Story and The Hellfire, knows a bit about terror. As the editor of the new two-volume set American Fantastic: Tales, Terror and the Uncanny, he spent two years researching the best — and scariest — American stories, dating from the age of Edgar Allan Poe to the present.

"I wanted to get a good representation of stories from across the decades, from as early as possible to the present," he tells Scott Simon.

The resulting compilation includes pieces from well-known authors, including Poe, H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King, as well as lesser-known writers like Emma Frances Dawson and Olivia Howard Dunbar.

Straub says that scary stories appeal to the parts of ourselves that aren't normally reached: "In America, we don't like darkness, really, but there is a an immense quantity to be learned there, and we all experience it in our lives."

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