Fiction. Fitz Hugh Ludlow's short stories are collected here for the first time. He burst on the literary scene in 1857 with the unlikely best seller The Hasheesh Eater. Written when he was just 20 years old, the book swept him into a career as a prolific novelist, short story author, arts critic, travel writer, journalist and editor. His friends and colleagues ranged from Walt Whitman to Brigham Young to Mark Twain. The material published in Ludlow's COLLECTED WORKS displays a depth of observation, a breadth of erudition and an appetite for extreme experience applied to the emerging modern American nation. The Heart of the Continent, published in 1870, bookended his brief but prolific 13-year career. Though famous for his non-fiction explorations, Ludlow's bread and butter as a full-time professional writer was the short story. As this volume testifies, he was prolific in his short, fourteen-year career and covered a wide range. His humorous light fiction was set in the daily life of New York City's upper middle class. He produced several Poe-influenced tales of the weird. And he was most successful when basing stories on emotional incidents from his own life, including tales satirizing religious squabbles (informed by his upbringing by a born-again, Abolitionist preacher), tales of love lost from among his own family's disappointments, and stories turning on his experiences on the Overland Stage to California in 1863.
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