Making a List: Oddly Specific Literary Anthologies

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about anthologies. We at Lookout have been working hard for the past several months on upcoming Ecotone anthology, Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade. Then, just last week, my undergraduate publishing section read two examples of successful book proposals, both of which happened to be for anthologies of essays. What I find most fascinating is the oddly specific subject matter some editors undertake when compiling an anthology. Who knew there were enough stories, essays, and poems out there in the world about these subjects? Who knew there was a demand?

1.Baseball: A Literary Anthology, ed. Nicholas Dawidoff


Published in 2002 by Library of America, this is the anthology springs to my mind when I think of oddly specific subjects; in college, my boss was looking to make an anthology of baseball poems, and I remember being surprised to hear there were enough poems about baseball to anthologize—although some would undoubtedly say it is the Most American of Sports! and thus a prime subject for poesy. Robert Frost, Yusef Komunyakaa, Philip Roth, and John Updike, among others, are anthologized here.

2.Twists of the Tale: An Anthology of Cat Horror, ed. Ellen Datlow


(Published in 1996 by Dell)

Before cats took over the Internet (and yes, our hearts), authors such as Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Clive Barker, and William S. Burroughs were all writing stories about them. Horror stories. On the first page, the editor dedicates the anthology to someone “who said it shouldn’t be done.” Which, as we all know, is no one these days.

3.Latter-Gay Saints: An Anthology of Gay Mormon Fiction, eds. Gerald S. Argetsinger, Jeff Laver, Johnny Townsend


(Published by Lethe Press in July 2013)

This one grabbed my attention with its title; surely, I thought, they aren’t making a pun on such a serious topic. Then—surely there aren’t 336 pages of gay Mormon fiction? But, yes, twenty-five stories, all in one book. Reviews of the anthology applaud its ability to surpass its seemingly small audience (all the stories revolve around gay Mormon men).

4. The Literary Werewolf: An Anthology, ed. Charlotte F. Otten


(Published in 2002 by Syracuse University Press)

This anthology existed long before the supernatural romance trend. Imagine what might be added to it today! Stories in this anthology range from Ovid to Stephen King, from Rudyard Kipling to Jane Yolen. It is my sincere hope that you, reader, are a person who has been wondering where to find more classic werewolf fiction, and that you were gleefully frightened by the werewolf on the cover. Happy almost Halloween!

5. The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, ed. Otto Penzler


Published by Vintage last week (October 22, 2013)

Crime fiction set at Christmastime! What could be better? Its page boasts that the 672-page anthology features “unscrupulous Santas,” “crimes of Christmases past,” “festive felonies,” “deadly puddings,” and “misdemeanors under the mistletoe,” including the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ed McBain, Mary Higgins Clark, Issac Asimov, and Damon Runyon, among many others. This is bound to be holiday reading at its pulpiest.

Katie Prince,
Lookout Intern