There are very real differences between science fiction and realistic fiction, between horror and fantasy, between romance and mystery. Differences in writing them, in reading them, in criticizing them. Vive les différences! They’re what gives each genre its singular flavor and savor, its particular interest for the reader—and the writer.
But when the characteristics of a genre are controlled, systematized, and insisted upon by publishers, or editors, or critics, they become limitations rather than possibilities. Salability, repeatability, expectability replace quality. A literary form degenerates into a formula.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, 2014
Permit us to begin with a brief summary of a short story. A hardware salesman driving from Providence to his home in New Haven notices that a clock in a roadside diner is a few minutes ahead of his watch but thinks nothing of it; he’ll still be home by 7:30. Later, after being momentarily disoriented by a “feeling of blank unbelongingness” and noting yet another inexplicable time discrepancy, he arrives home more than an hour late. Unable to account for his lost hour, he has a vague memory of seeing a group of white houses at an intersection and momentarily wonders if he’s the same person he was when he left Providence. Several times over the next few weeks he looks for the white houses, feeling a “strange sense of loss” until one day, departing from his usual route to check out a new hardware store, he finds himself on strange but oddly familiar roads. He not only sees the houses, but a middle-aged woman tending to her flowers at a nearby summer cottage seems to recognize him as does a bartender at a roadside bar. But when he leaves the bar and drives past the woman’s cottage, it looks empty and closed up for the winter as do all the other seaside cottages.
This quiet, mysterious tale with its implication of hidden realities, or perhaps alternate realities, its unexplained time shifts, and its pointed lack of easy resolution might well be described by the words John Kessel used to describe a story by M. Rickert: “It is both clearly written and profoundly disorienting. It does not resolve itself easily into any simple category. At times it seems like a dream.” It in fact exhibits several of the characteristics now associated with what is sometimes called slipstream, referring to stories that refuse to land comfortably in any genre or in any clear mainstream tradition. But this story, Robert M. Coates’s “The Hour After Westerly,” appeared in The New Yorker in 1947. Coates, now remembered largely as the magazine’s art critic (and for coining the term “abstract expressionism”), wrote more than a hundred stories for the magazine, several of which share this unsettling quality. (He also had published a rather bizarre, surrealist, mystery novel, The Eater of Darkness, in 1926). In his memoir of The New Yorker, Brendan Gill credited Coates along with John O’Hara, Irwin Shaw, and a few others with having helped create what in the 1930s and 1940s was regarded as the characteristic New Yorker story. Obviously, this was long before the days of Updike and Salinger, let alone Raymond Carver and Lorrie Moore.
Here’s another one, this time from Mademoiselle in 1945: a 61-year-old widow in New York meets a little girl at a movie theater and buys her a ticket. A week later, the girl shows up at her apartment, apparently knowing details of her life, demanding a sandwich, rummaging through her things, asking if she can have a brooch that she finds, and insisting on a kiss goodnight, violently smashing a vase when the woman refuses. The girl returns again the following day with a box of clothes and announces she’s moving in. The woman flees to the couple living downstairs, and the husband agrees to go deal with the girl. But he finds no girl and no box of clothes. Reluctantly, the woman returns to her empty apartment and begins to doze until she hears the ruffle of a dress. She opens her eyes to find the little girl, who says, “Hello.” “Miriam” was one of Truman Capote’s first published stories. Again, the tension between psychological and fantastic elements is unresolved, but the story is clearly organized like a horror tale, and like the Coates story is pointedly uncertain in its resolution.
What led us toward these stories and a good two or three dozen or more along the same lines—all originally published in American literary or slick magazines in the decade following World War II—was a claim made by Michael Chabon in his introduction to his 2003 anthology, McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales. Chabon complained that at a certain point in fairly recent literary history, which he dates from about 1950, the American short story was effectively coopted by a single genre—what he describes as “the contemporary, quotidian, plotless, moment-of-truth revelatory story.”
As late as about 1950, if I referred to “short fiction,” I might have been talking about any one of the following kinds of stories: the ghost story; the horror story; the detective story; the story of suspense, terror, fantasy, or the macabre; the sea, adventure, spy, war, or historical story; the romance story. Stories, in other words, with plots. (6)
If this was really a post-1950 phenomenon as Chabon claimed, we should be able to find evidence of it in the literary and mainstream magazines of the post–World War II era. We looked not only for stories with plots but for fantastic or genre elements—traces of fantasy, horror, or even science fiction—and then looked to see if such stories indeed began disappearing from these venues during this period, perhaps being exiled to special-interest genre magazines, perhaps simply falling victim to literary fashion.
What we found surprised us not only in terms of the number of plotted tales with fantastic elements but in the manner in which many of these stories resonated with the ambiguities of genre and style characteristic of so much more recent slipstream or interstitial fiction. The most famous example, of course, the one most often cited as an example of fantasy invading The New Yorker, the one everyone knows, is Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” which appeared there in 1948. “The Lottery” may not exactly be a fantasy—in fact, some New Yorker readers apparently wrote to the magazine asking where they could find Jackson’s strange village—but it is an example of this kind of “feeling very strange” story we’re talking about here, and it was far from being a one-off exception either in The New Yorker or in other mainstream magazines of the day. More than two dozen New Yorker stories from roughly this period later showed up in genre anthologies, as did many more stories from such “slick” magazines as Colliers, the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s, Mademoiselle, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Home Companion, Charm, Town & Country, and even Story magazine. Fantasies, fables, even the occasional science fiction or horror story were not nearly as rare in these magazines as is commonly thought, but by the end of the 1950s, they had all but disappeared (as had many of the magazines).
Because of Chabon’s thesis, we focused on American magazine fiction from roughly 1945–1955 but without suggesting that such stories hadn’t appeared earlier or didn’t appear later. In fact, some months after we had presented an early version of this paper, Peter Straub’s massive anthology, American Fantastic Tales, appeared from the prestigious Library of America containing some 86 fantastic tales in two volumes, the first covering 1805–1939, the second 1940 to the present. It was interesting to note that in the first volume, virtually all the stories prior to the pulp era had originally appeared in traditional “literary” venues (Harper’s being the most common with eight selections). Despite a handful of selections from The New Yorker, the second volume depended just as heavily on genre magazines and small-press publications as story sources, suggesting, as Charles Coleman Finley, H. Bruce Franklin, and others have claimed, that the fantastic had been a respectable feature of traditional literary venues for most of American literary history prior to its increasing segregation into special-interest publications (pulps, genre magazines, specialty presses) during the twentieth century. But the immediate postwar era was of particular interest to us since it showed that a significant number of fantastic or “slipstreamy” stories continued to appear in mainstream magazines, stories which seemed to fall between the domestic realism that was beginning to emerge as a dominant force and the more traditionally plotted fantastic tales of an earlier era. More important was the mystery of why these same stories began to disappear from these venues later in the decade.
Even one of the authors most often cited as an exemplar of the closely observed suburban angst stories of the 1950s New Yorker, John Cheever, was best known early in his career for “The Enormous Radio,” a tale about a magical radio that broadcasts the deepest secrets of neighbors in an apartment building, which appeared in The New Yorker, May 17, 1947. But by the mid-1950s, John Cheever had moved away from his earlier fantasies and was writing the suburban stories he’s most famous for—though he would sometimes introduce eerie elements into these settings in such tales as 1964’s “The Swimmer,” with its protagonist losing his grip on time and reality as he attempts to “swim home” through a succession of suburban swimming pools. Ironically, a recent biography of Cheever suggests not only that his moralistic fantasies helped make his reputation but that he came to feel that he was “more or less ghettoized by his association with suburban cocktail parties and thus never received his critical due as a literary forefather of John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Donald Barthelme, and other disrupters of narrative convention” (Dee).
Other writers credited with defining the New Yorker style, such as E.B. White and Coates also published the occasional fantasy, science fiction, or slipstream story there. But White’s fantasy grew increasingly confined to his children’s books (Stuart Little appeared in 1945 and Charlotte’s Web in 1952), and while Coates continued to publish stories in The New Yorker throughout the 1950s, only a handful (“An Autumn Fable,” 1953; “The Man Who Vanished,” 1955; “A Parable of Love,” 1956) involved fantastic elements. The magazine regularly published writers like John Collier, Roald Dahl, and Shirley Jackson, all of whom developed their primary initial reputations as at least quasi-fantasists. But Collier published only four stories there after 1951, none with particularly fantastic elements. Shirley Jackson’s last story in The New Yorker, “An International Incident,” was published in 1953 (her first story in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, “Bulletin,” appeared the following year). Jackson kept writing and publishing short fiction in markets like Women’s Home Companion, Charm, McCall’s, Harper’s, and Playboy throughout the 1950s until her focus shifted towards novels (The Haunting of Hill House, 1959; We Have Always Lived in the Castle, 1962), memoirs, and books for children.
At the same time that these quasi-fantastical tales were appearing in the literary magazines, the more populist “slick” magazines featured overt works of fantasy, science fiction, and horror by authors more clearly associated with genre. Ray Bradbury found his way into a long list of mainstream magazines (including The New Yorker) in the postwar period while Robert A. Heinlein published nearly a dozen stories in the slicks. Jack Finney was a staple of Colliers (which published not only his familiar time-shift tales but his much-filmed novel The Body Snatchers) as well as The Saturday Evening Post and McCall’s. And at least one of the genre magazines which started during this period, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, under its original editors, Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas, seemed to take as part of its mission making sure such stories didn’t escape the attention of the genre audience. In its early years, the magazine reprinted many classic short stories and even poems—including stories by Collier, Coates, James Thurber, Robert Beverly Hale, and Roger Angell—that had originally appeared in The New Yorker. Later the magazine published original or reprinted works by Shirley Jackson, Truman Capote, Eric Linklater, C.S. Lewis, and many others.
Many of the stories we are talking about share a number of features with what we would later come to regard as literary, slipstream, or even postmodern fantasy. The fantastic elements are often quietly understated or even ambiguous, and the stories often pivot on that moment of readerly hesitation between the uncanny and the marvelous that Tzvetan Todorov famously and restrictively identified as “the fantastic.” In Coates’s “The Hour After Westerly,” we’re never quite certain what happened during the missing hour of the salesman’s trip home or what is the exact nature of the strangely familiar neighborhood he later finds himself revisiting or why in a matter of minutes the neighborhood seems to change from an active community to a group of boarded-up houses. Nothing in the story prohibits a purely psychological reading, but nothing signals such a reading, either. Ray Bradbury, when he anthologized the story, seemed to regard it as a sort of timeslip tale in which the salesman catches glimpses of a path not taken, a life he might have had. But Coates himself never offers a clear resolution. Similarly, in Capote’s “Miriam,” we are invited to view the strange little girl as a supernatural figure or even a projection of the protagonist’s own childhood self, but the story never quite tips the balance in one direction or another. John Cheever’s “Torch Song” (1947) describes a widow, a longtime friend of the protagonist, who seems to thrive on the misery and failure of the men she marries until the protagonist—his own life beginning to fall apart—asks her, “What kind of an obscenity are you that you can smell sickness and death the way you do?” We’re never certain if Joan is actually a sort of psychic vampire (the story was once anthologized in a collection of vampire tales) or a reflection of the protagonist’s own sense of dissolution and failure in the postwar period. In each of these stories, the fantasy element is singular and often very subtle, and while psychological readings of these tales (hallucinations, delusions, dreams, etc.) are possible, they’re hardly satisfactory given the material mysteries of the tales themselves, mysteries which may in some ways reflect the disorientation of the postwar years.
A story published by The Saturday Evening Post in 1950 almost seems to provide a direct fantasy image of this postwar anxiety. Conrad Richter’s “Doctor Hanry’s Second Chance” concerns a man who visits his childhood home, now in an enclosed military outpost, only to find younger versions of himself and his parents living there as if frozen in time. According to a recent biography of Richter, Ben Hibbs, then editor of the Post, wrote to Richter that the story was “as fine as anything we have bought during the eight years I have been editor of the Post.” Asked about the genesis of the story, Richter said that it came from “his trips to White Deer Valley, once with his brothers Joe and Fred, and again—the day after Hiroshima—with just Fred.” Searching through what was left of his childhood home, turned by WWII into an army reservation for manufacturing explosives, Richter was hoping for some signs of his own past, a past radically separated from him by the gulf of the war years (Johnson 261). The character’s parents are gone as are the institutions of family and religion that they represented. The imagery in the story is desolate and despairing, riddled with the guilt that follows change and destruction.
In short, a good case can be made that the literary fantastic was in a pretty healthy state in the postwar decade and in fact seemed to be well on its way to developing the kind of merger of literary and genre techniques that decades later would be identified as slipstream. But what, if anything, happened during the 1950s to derail this movement, sending such fiction into virtual exile from the literary short story? Not only did the science fiction or fantasy elements disappear, but plot itself seemed to be devalued—much as Chabon claimed—in favor of portraying an intricately realized character in a moment of internal growth; the focus in stories shifted from the external (a mystery or problem that a character is compelled to deal with) to the internal (perspective rather than events). Increasingly, plot-driven or fantastic tales were relegated to the genre digests, to the rapidly declining middlebrow slick magazines like Collier’s, and to a few newer markets like Playboy, while the mimetic, internalized “moment of revelation” story most closely associated with the later New Yorker became increasingly the center of mainstream short fiction. As to why and when this shift occurred, we can only offer a few speculations.
1. It was a result less of shifting literary tastes than of simple market forces. While The New Yorker, Harper’s, and a few other literary magazines may have created an illusion of continuity, the short fiction markets in general were undergoing significant stress during this period. Faced with competition from television and the growing paperback book market, many of the slick magazines began to disappear or radically cut back on fiction. Collier’s and The American Magazine folded in 1956, Woman’s Home Companion in 1957, and Charm was absorbed by Glamour in 1959, eliminating fiction as it changed from a general magazine to one focused on fashion and beauty. Although The Saturday Evening Post lasted until 1969, it had drastically cut back on its fiction as early as 1961. Mademoiselle (whose founding editor, ironically, was F. Orlin Tremaine, later far better known for his editorship of Amazing Stories) was sold by Street & Smith in 1959, also shifting toward a more dedicated fashion magazine. As the “women’s” magazines began to disappear from the fiction market, a new generation of men’s magazines led by Playboy proved surprisingly amenable to genre and cross-genre fiction with authors such as Harlan Ellison and Charles Beaumont contributing a broad spectrum of stories to magazines like Rogue and Knight. At the same time, following the collapse of the pulp magazines, several genre-oriented magazines, notably The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, became more self-consciously literary, publishing stories by Jackson, Coates, C.S. Lewis, and others. These effectively became the new “mainstream” markets for the plotted or fantastic short story.
With the short fiction markets thus contracting, the traditional “literary” short story increasingly became the province of university-based journals and creative writing programs, which largely took their cues from what The New Yorker was doing. (Even today, the short story markets listed at the back of the Best American Short Stories are heavily weighted toward small, university-based literary journals rather than commercial venues.) But this may actually be a symptom of a larger cultural shift, which we’ll get to in a moment.
2. It was a conspiracy led by a few editors and authors. Harold Ross, the founding editor of The New Yorker, died in 1951, and the new editor, William Shawn, may have preferred the mimetic, revelatory short story model as pioneered by authors like J.D. Salinger, John Updike, and eventually even old hands like John Cheever. After Ross, the quintessential New Yorker style shifted away from the earlier O’Hara/Shaw type of story toward this newer model. Even today, the timeline on the New Yorker’s web site lists J.D Salinger’s story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” in the January 31, 1948, issue as establishing “a new tone for American short fiction.” This dialogue-heavy story focuses on a couple vacationing in Florida with the husband’s alienation from his experiences in the war—what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder—as the controlling subtext. As the wife talks to her mother long-distance, the husband plays on the beach with a young girl, until in the last sentence, he kills himself with a handgun. Collected along with other stories in Salinger’s Nine Stories in 1953, the story has been cited by some literary historians as having redefined the American short story in the direction of minimal plot and powerfully detailed observation of small interactions and psychological stresses. According to The New York Times, “Nine Stories, published in 1953, made Mr. Salinger a darling of the critics as well for the way it dismantled the traditional architecture of the short story and replaced it with one in which a story could turn on a tiny shift of mood or tone.” John Updike published his first story in The New Yorker in 1954, Saul Bellow in 1955 (except for a brief earlier piece), Philip Roth in 1958. Grace Paley’s first short story collection appeared in 1959.
3. It was an expression of a much broader cultural shift. As Thomas Pynchon said in a 1984 essay in The New York Times, mainstream fiction “had been paralyzed by the political climate of the Cold War and McCarthy years,” leaving genres like science fiction to confront the real anxieties of the era. Perhaps, following the red scare, McCarthyism, the dispiriting and indecisive Korean War, and the Eisenhower election, a mood of intellectual retreat descended upon much of the literary community, with both literary fiction and genre fiction retreating more and more into their own, narrowing readerships. Pynchon’s observation was anticipated as early as 1953 by Harold Strauss, then editor in chief of Alfred A. Knopf, who complained in an essay in The Saturday Review that young writers “seek the security of pieces of paper certifying that they are writers. They turn to creative writing courses, toward the G.I. Bill, to university fellowships, to the foundations, and to publisher’s contracts” (8). He continued: “The absorption of writers in ‘small stories’ is a retreat from the world, the great world. It is a sickness of the mind; it is the psychological phenomenon known to psychiatrists as rejection” (9).
Strauss in turn rather presciently touches upon another postwar phenomenon that may have changed the nature of American short fiction in ways that are only now beginning to be explored: the institutionalization of fiction in higher education through the growth of creative writing programs, spurred on in part by the surge in enrollments in the wake of the G.I. Bill. Previous to this, working Americans by and large did not require college educations, and at the same time, the subjects taught in colleges and universities were rapidly expanding to include new disciplines. “A cluster of creative writing programs appeared in the immediate postwar period,” notes Mark McGurl in The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing, “but with the progressive educational revival of the 1960s, the numbers exploded” (25). McGurl counts some 720 such programs, graduate and undergraduate, by 2004, and it’s clear that he sees as one of the chief values of such programs the preservation of “modernist literary value” (x). “The overriding problem for postwar American fiction,” he argues, “has been how to adapt modernist principles of writing ... to a literary field increasingly dominated by bureaucratic institutions of higher education.” In other words, university-based writing programs, many of them heavily influenced by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren’s influential New Critical 1943 textbook Understanding Fiction, have served to institutionalize the very sort of story that The New Yorker began aggressively championing in the 1950s and in turn provided publication venues for such stories in university-based journals and little magazines, which, as noted earlier, have made up the bulk of the markets listed at the back of The Best American Short Stories annuals for several years now.
What is striking in McGurl’s formulation is how often the word “serious” is used to refer only to educated readers and writers who have been acculturated through the university system of classes, workshops, and textbook anthologies. Though McGurl does discuss genre works by Delany and others with some respect, his opposite for “serious” fiction is genre fiction, which McGurl largely dismisses as formulaic. (The major tensions he discusses within “serious” fiction are those between realistic, internalized, character portraits and the more experimental “technomodernism” of writers like Pynchon and Barthelme.) “Only in the most highly mediated way can the science fiction writer be said to deploy the faculties of memory or observation in her work,” he writes. While much genre work is formulaic, formula is not limited to the genres of popular fiction: McGurl himself identifies several kinds of formula novels that emerge from university writing workshops: the Viet Nam novel; the campus novel that is thinly veiled autobiography; stories of lower-middle-class realism.
In effect, what McGurl is celebrating is the liberation of university-based short fiction writers from any need to compete in a marketplace of readers beyond the limited circle of other writing programs and low-circulation magazines—or for that matter, from any expectation of income. In this sense, the American short story has shifted from the commercial fiction model (which in its extreme form was represented by the pulp magazines but also by the slicks) into an institutionally subsidized fine art more akin to poetry. The notion of fiction that might appeal to a larger base of readers, either through genre affiliations or traditional mechanisms of plot and suspense, is viewed with suspicion if not contempt; the reading of fiction becomes a learned and hermetic skill. McGurl approvingly quotes Flannery O’Connor as writing, “‘For the reading of literature ever to become a habit and a pleasure, it must first be a discipline.’ And ‘if the student finds that this is not to his taste? Well, that is regrettable. Most regrettable. His taste should not be consulted; it is being formed” (128, 140). Those readers with inadequately formed tastes or insufficient “discipline”—those who at one time might have read sheerly for pleasure the stories in Weird Tales, The Saturday Evening Post, or even The New Yorker—are no longer of interest to this new model of fiction.
Fortunately there have been significant signs of change, some of them dating as far back as the decade immediately following the 1950s. Donald Barthelme published the first of his fantastical postmodern tales in The New Yorker in 1963, the same decade that saw the rise of famously nonrealistic writers like John Barth and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and by the late 1970s the magazine had begun publishing stories by well-known science fiction writers such as Ursula K. Le Guin and Stanislaw Lem, later expanding its roster of fiction writers to include Gene Wolfe and Stephen King. Among younger writers, not only Michael Chabon but Jonathan Lethem, George Saunders, Steven Millhauser, Don DeLillo, and Joyce Carol Oates, make free use of fantastic and science-fictional elements in their works. Still, today’s dialogue between the literary and the fantastic seems to be taking place largely on the genre side as genre writers incorporate the fantastic with the mainstream in ways similar to the strategies mentioned earlier but remain confined largely to genre magazines and specialty presses. As John Kessel wrote in a recent anthology devoted to highlighting the dialogue between science fiction and literary fiction (The Secret History of Science Fiction), “Who has the most work to do in tearing down these irrational barriers? I know a hell of a lot more about Herman Melville and Virginia Woolf than the average literary intellectual knows about China Miéville and Gene Wolfe” (100). But even as the heavy lifting goes on, it seems that Chabon was right in calling out the postwar exile of plotted story in general, to which we would add the fantastic in particular. Is it hard to believe that a magazine like The New Yorker, which once celebrated the strange fiction of John Collier, Shirley Jackson, and Robert M. Coates, might also have published Kelly Link or Jeffrey Ford had they been writing in the 1940s?
Since this essay was originally written in 2009, the world of literature and publishing has gone through a number of changes, including more MFA programs and greater enrollment, the MFA itself increasingly being seen as a midpoint rather than a terminal degree as pertaining to employment, the collapse of the Borders chain of bookstores, the increasing and worrisome power of Amazon, more conversations about traditional genre concepts becoming irrelevant, the tremendous rise of e-reading and e-readers, an increasingly public and vocal online culture of genre-associated writers and readers that reflects the Internet-ization of media and culture, greater numbers of traditionally published authors happily venturing into self-publishing and self-publishing becoming a more legitimate path to success, and the Big Six of “genre” publishers becoming the Big Five with the merger of Penguin and Random House in 2013. Trends in “genre” conversations online and at conventions often focus on inclusivity and accurate representation of women, people of color, and non-Western cultures—populations who in some respects started gaining greater access to education and power during the postwar era and Civil Rights and equality movements that followed and are ongoing—and conversations focusing on cross-genre movements. Successful writers speak of crossing boundaries and the illegitimacy of genre, whether by denying that their works are genre or by being inclusive of various genre storytelling tactics, but publishing categories haven’t yet shifted much aside from interstitial, slipstream, bizarro, and other movements seen within the self-identified genre spectrum. Perhaps in another half century or so, cultural critics will look back and form theories about why literature became more inclusive and diverse and less about “traditional” genre labels and boundaries, or perhaps it will turn out to be obvious that reality is diverse and that genre is at heart a matter of predicting and meeting reader expectations.
Amelia Beamer lives in California. Gary K. Wolfe lives in Chicago. A version of this essay was presented at the 2009 International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts and the 2009 Readercon.
Chabon, Michael. “The Editor’s Notebook.” McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales. New York: Vintage Press, 2003.
Dee, Jonathan. “Review of Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey.” Harper’s Magazine Blog, 12 March 2010 <www.powells.com/review/2010_03_12.html>. Accessed 19 July 2015.
Gill, Brendan. Here at The New Yorker. New York: Da Capo Press, 1997.
Jackson, Shirley. “The Morning of June 28, 1948, and ‘The Lottery.’” The Story and Its Writer. Edited by Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007.
Johnson, David R. Conrad Richter: A Writer’s Life. University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 2008.
Kelly, James Patrick, and John Kessel, editorss. The Secret History of Science Fiction. San Francisco: Tachyon, 2009.
Kunkel, Thomas. Genius in Disguise: Harold Ross of The New Yorker. New York: Random House. 1995.
Le Guin, Ursula K. “Ursula K. Le Guin talks to Michael Cunningham about genres, gender, and broadening fiction.” Electric Literature, 7 August 2014. <electricliterature.com/ursula-k-le-guin-talks-to-michael-cunningham-about-genres-gender-and-broadening-fiction/>. Accessed 12 June 2015.
McGurl, Mark. The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009
The New Yorker Timeline. <www.newyorker.com/magazine/timeline>
New York Times. “Profile of J.D. Salinger.” Undated. <topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/j_d_salinger/index.html>. Accessed 12 June 2015.
Pynchon, Thomas. “Is It O.K. To Be a Luddite?” The New York Times, October 28, 1984. <www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/18/reviews/pynchon-luddite.html>. Accessed 12 June 2015.
Strauss, Harold. “The Illiterate American Writer.” The Saturday Review, May 17, 1952. <www.unz.org/Pub/SaturdayRev-1952may17-00008> Accessed 11 June 2015.
The Postwar Fantastic Short Story: Selected Readings, 1945–1955
Some of these stories were identified through the Locus Index to SF Anthologies <www.locusmag.com/index/> (indicating that at one time or another they were regarded by an anthologist as of interest to genre readers).
While this list consists primarily of fantastic stories by authors with mainstream reputations, it should be noted that a much longer list would include authors mostly known for genre work who also published in mainstream or literary magazines. Ray Bradbury published nearly 60 stories in mainstream magazines during this period while Jack Finney and Robert A. Heinlein published more than a dozen each. Colliers alone published a dozen Bradbury stories and seven by Finney while the Saturday Evening Post published a total of eleven stories by these three authors.
Angell, Roger. “Just a Matter of Time.” The New Yorker, reprinted in F&SF, Winter 1950.
Capote, Truman. “Miriam.” Mademoiselle, June 1945.
Cheever, John. “The Enormous Radio.” The New Yorker, May 17, 1947.
——. “Torch Song.” The New Yorker, October 4, 1947.
Coates, Robert M. “The Hour After Westerly.” The New Yorker, November 1, 1947.
——. “The Law.” The New Yorker, Nov. 29, 1947.
——. “The Man Who Vanished.” The New Yorker, Oct. 22, 1955.
——. “The Return of the Gods.” The New Yorker, reprinted in F&SF, Winter 1950.
——. “The Sense of Time.” The New Yorker, March 29, 1947.
Collier, John. “Are You Too Late or Was I Too Early?” The New Yorker, April 14, 1951.
——. “Interpretation of a Dream.” The New Yorker, May 5, 1951.
——. “The Lady on the Grey.” The New Yorker, June 16, 1951.
Dahl, Roald. “Collector’s Item.” Colliers, Sept. 4, 1948; also as “Man from the South.”
——. “The Wish.” 1948 in Someone Like You, 1953.
——. “The Sound Machine.” The New Yorker, Sept. 17, 1949.
——. “Taste.” The New Yorker, Dec. 8, 1951.
——. “Dip in the Pool.” The New Yorker, Jan. 19, 1952.
——. “Skin.” The New Yorker, May 17, 1952.
——. “The Way Up to Heaven.” The New Yorker, Feb. 27, 1954.
Eustis, Helen. “The Rider on the Pale Horse.” The Saturday Evening Post, Feb. 11, 1950.
Goodwin, John B.L. “The Cocoon.” Story Magazine, Sept./Oct., 1946.
Hale, Robert Beverly. “The Big Nasturtiums.” The New Yorker, June 1952.
Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” The New Yorker, June 26, 1948.
——. “Charles.” Mademoiselle, July 1948.
——. “The Phantom Lover.” Woman’s Home Companion, Feb. 1949; also as “The Daemon Lover.”.
——. “The Witch.” In The Lottery and Other Stories. New York: Farrar Straus, 1949.
——. “The Summer People.” Charm, Sept. 1950.
——. “Bulletin.” F&SF, March 1954.
——. “One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts.” F&SF, Jan. 1955.
——. “The Renegade.” Harper’s, Nov. 1948.
Richter, Conrad. “Doctor Hanray’s Second Chance,” The Saturday Evening Post, June 10, 1950.
White, E.B. “The Decline of Sport.” The New Yorker, October 25, 1947.
——. “The Hour of Letdown.” The New Yorker, Dec. 22, 1951.
——. “The Morning of the Day They Did It.” The New Yorker, Feb. 1950.