American Gothic/Gothic American

I’m excited to report that I have received my contributor copies for Flame Tree Press’s new anthology American Gothic Short Stories, which contains my story “Gothic American.” The anthology features fourteen original tales and a slew of classic reprints. These latter are what make this writing credit my proudest one to date. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would see my name listed on the same Table of Contents page with so many of my literary idols–preeminent American Gothic authors such as Charles Brockden Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Flannery O’Connor, and Shirley Jackson.

“Gothic American” is one of my favorite pieces that I have written, largely because it deals with my favorite work of art: Grant Wood’s American Gothic. The house that inspired Wood and formed the backdrop for the now-iconic couple in the 1930 painting still stands in Eldon, Iowa, and has become an offbeat sort of tourist attraction (with visitors inevitably recreating the scene from the painting as they pose for photos). My story casts a darker shadow over such lighthearted mimicry. It also speculates: what if the American Gothic House (as this historic landmark is now called) actually was an American Gothic house?

The story went through countless drafts (and accumulated its fair share of rejections) over the years before I felt I finally got it right. I wanted “Gothic American” to allow multiple interpretations by readers, and believe the version published in American Gothic Short Stories has achieved the correct level of ambiguity (apropos of Wood’s vaguely-unsettling painting, whose meaning is so hard to pin down). I also believe the story has found the perfect home in Flame Tree Press’s anthology, and am thrilled to see it published there.

 

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