I would first of all like to thank the editorial team at Edinburgh University Press, in particular the commissioning editor Jackie Jones, for their help and enthusiasm. I would also like to thank the anonymous readers whose comments helped me to reshape the original proposal. Past and present colleagues at the University of Kent have aided me with advice, encouragement, insights and the loan of books, among them Maggie Awadalla, David Ayers, Jennifer Ballantine-Perera, David Blair, Keith Carabine, Agnès Cardinal, Stefania Ciocia, Patricia Debney, Brian Dillon, Alex Dolby, Rob Duggan, Lyn Innes, Julian Preece, Dave Reason, Caroline Rooney, Elizabeth Schächter, Martin Scofield, Florian Stadtler, David Stirrup, Scarlett Thomas and Sue Wicks. I remain grateful for the continued support of my PhD examiner Robert Hampson, while I am also indebted to timely conversations with Ailsa Cox and Toby Litt. Part of Chapter 10 was presented in a different form at the J. G. Ballard conference at the University of East Anglia in 2007: I am grateful to the organiser, Jeannette Baxter. I would also like to thank my many students in English, American and Comparative Literature for partaking (suffering?) seminars in tales, short stories and popular fictions. Lastly, I would like to thank the love and support of my far-flung family: John and Virginia in Oxford; Brandon, Lucy and their children in Somerset; Zahra in the Isle of Man; and Isabella and Kirit in Canterbury. This book is dedicated to the memories of Pamela Russell and Colin March.
Copyright permissions: I would like to thank the Estate of Donald Barthelme for allowing me to reprint an illustration from Donald Barthelme's 'The Flight of Pigeons from the Palace' in Forty Stories (1989), and Iain Sinclair for permitting me to reprint a page from his story, 'The Griffin's Egg' (1996).