(former caretaker of the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in Bronx, NY)
with Commentary, when Required, in Brackets
and Addressed to "Andy"
Edgar Allan Poe of Baltimore wrote the memorable poem, "The Raven", and
that poem inspired the name of Baltimore's current NFL team. But naming
football teams is not all he was good at.
Throughout Edgar Allen Poe's life, many factors have contributed and influenced
his writing style. He lived a difficult life, because he was raised in
a dysfunctional household. But the final product of Edgar Allen Poe's
mind is printed in his short stories and poems.
One does not understand the meaning of Poe if one reads at the superficial
level. One has to read into Poe, and understand the hardships of his life
and how he maintained them that way.
[Andy- Poe Cottage was always asking when you would drop by for another
I must admit that when I first recieved this book I didn't expect to like
it, particularly since popular intrest in Poe has dramaticaly fallen recently,
but I very much enjoyed it. It seems some things don't just fade away
into the past.
[Andy- The Cottage asked a lot. Maybe it still does.]
But if you don't own this book, "you shalt not be suffered to live"!!!!(sorry
for dramatizing, but buy this (*) book!!!!!!!! And read it of course,
not only buy it and put it on your shelf because it looks nice and when
you show it to people, they all say, wow, you got a great collection -
they say this, at least one of them says this, because he knows what proud
'n' lucky son you are to own such a beautiful book ...
[Andy- Do you remember that big I-beam across the Cottage basement ceiling
that served as a book shelf for the best collection of Classical literature
on Kingsbridge Road? Looked pretty solid, didn't it? Can you tell me why
books would always fall out? I conducted a test once, for you. I pretended
to take a shower. Closed the door (almost), stripped, turned on the water,
started singing showtunes, the whole bit. But I didn't get in the shower.
I peeked out to see what the Cottage would do. Nothing. For a few minutes.
Then the books started shooting off both sides of the I-beam. I shit you
not, Andy, they were launching themselves from their places and landing
on the floor 3 or 4 feet, horizontally, from where they started.]
The poem, The Raven, was a reall scary peom. If you are 11 or 12, read
the book, The Man Who Was Poe. It's also scary.
[Andy- Do you know this book? Or have you, like the rest of us, only been
keeping up with Harry Potter?]
The suspense was excellant. At the climax the reader is given hints at
what is to happen, but still the reader is forced to hold his or her breath
until it finally falls through.
[Andy- Call it denial if you like, but after the flying book bit, I took
a shower and rode my bike to work in midtown, like nothing had ever happened.]
I think he could have done better.
Though Poe is said to have been cryptically insane in his lifetime, the
misunderstood literature recorded in his writings have only recently been
acclaimed as opposed to being further reprimanded by his era of supporters,
or the lack there of.
[Andy- Ut minora ad maiora conferam --- How can you sleep at night, given
the editorial butchering to which you have subjected my works before their
publication in your ezine?]
My only regret is that I don't know latin, which would help the reader
understand more of his side comments and quotes, French would be good
too, but neither are necessary.
[Andy- Remember how you used to get all skeeved out when I refused to
leave the Cottage to go downtown to see some hipster happening or another?
Remember that? That was a test. The Cottage was testing you. You failed.
I offered explanation, appeal, and expiation, but the jury could not be
convinced. Don't ever go back there.]
Modern writers can only hope to aspire to his genius. Poe died as a pauper
because his contemporaries were jealous of his talent. No other american
writer except for maybe Ferlinghetti has grasped the idea of writing and
used it so perfectly. Poe deserved better than he got.
[Andy- Please get in touch with me with all your thoughts on this Ferlinghetti
writer person. Thanks.]
But as a literary piece, most readers would drop the book within the first
ten pages. Poe's diatribe succeeds in alienating the modern reader through
his references to seemingly unknown astronomers and physicists from the
18th and 19th centuries such as Laplace, Comte, Dr. Nichol, M■dler, Lord
Rosse, and many others.
[Andy- I reference these guys all the time, along with late 19th and early
20th century eugenecists, and you, my publisher, let it past your
axe. Is this tacit support on your part of the belief, all too common
among your liberal elite Cambridge pals, that science and its methods
are a purely cultural and linguistic construct? Just asking.]
I thought that this book might be more for an older generation that would
love to read very poetic stories. I personally didn't care for the book
that much, because of his style of writing poetry. It was very hard to
understand some sentences and I had to read them twice. Some of Poe's
stories are well based and have a good plot. If you are a well educated
person, you may like this book.
[Andy- This sounds like something you may have written in the guise of
one of your many personae, except for that narrative compliment. You are
so hyper-critical of radical narrative technique! Have you betrayed our
Objectivist ideals? You were never punk rock, you XTC-aficionado!!!! I'm
getting in the truck and driving up to Cambridge so that we can finally
have it out, mano a mano (perhaps at Chez Henri, over cocktails, salads,
and a couple of their delicious Cuban sandwiches, my treat) like real
[Philosophy of Furniture-Editorial Review]
Suspense, fear and the supernatural provide the center for this tale by
the master prose writer.
[Andy- What? In The Philosophy of Furniture? That essay is nothing more
than Poe as reactionary prophet of Greek Revival Feng Shui. You can't
trust an editorial review. A couch is good, though, and a welcome mat.
It's hard to misplace a welcome mat, even when the furniture moves around
by itself sometimes.]
Edgar Allan Poe sure does something with writting and reality that all
of us would like to do. He is able to write all autobiographies, but substatute
it with something that you wouldn't even imangine that he is talking about
[Andy- This is actually about you. There was this message on my cell phone
voice mail the other day. The caller ID showed the old Poe Cottage number,
and the guy was asking for you. I only listened to part of it, and then
Poe is a creator of genders in literature, his importance to the development
of the urban tales must be considered and, indeed, a book with his complete
works must be surelly a jewel to be enjoyed.
[Andy- The matter of what you so blithely call "tone" is something we'll
discuss later, and besides, my relationship with my dog is utterly chaste.
Can you honestly say the same?]
I have gotten a morbid sense of humor and laughed aloud at some of the
stories, but of nothing evil.
[Andy- Do you remember all that stuff I wrote about roaming packs of demonic
high school girls? All the stuff you didn't, and won't, publish --- the
plays, the prose, the poetry? Does this ring a bell? I've got some mixed-media
material about this now, photos and recordings, that I'd like to put into
an easily downloadable format, but I know that you really aren't interested.]
I really like the Raven. I liked it so much that I memorized it for a
school project! It was hard but I did it! As a matter of fact, I still
remember some of it!
[Andy- Been there and there ain't nothing there and they come from miles
around asking for you, tapping on the windows just before the sun comes
up and partying on the porch all night making the most horrible racket
or standing by the bed saying it's sure cold in here.]
Vampirism, with its terrible energy exchanges and lesions, is ultimately
Poe's analogy for a love that persists beyond the grave --- an all-consuming
passion that knows no peace until an undead reconciliation is effected.
[Andy- I'll put $5 on the rightness of this comment.]
I first read Poe when I was a little child, in an abridged mini-series
written for children. To this day, I have my favorites I have since read
in full. Horror is the only way to describe what went through this man's
writing, while being subdued to his own tragedies. He brang the most awesome
literature we will ever read. Read Annabelle Lee, and if you don't cry
you must have a heart of stone....
[Andy- $10 on this one. But Harry Potter's good, too.]
These are not happy lovey dovey stories!
[Andy- A few hugs at the beginning of the night, despite the bags of garbage
you're bringing out for disposal, are forgivable, you might suppose, because
it's just the Ecstasy, and they're kind of cute. In the morning, over
coffee, over the hump, counting casualties, taking note of the dog carcasses
hanging from the lower branches of the Norway maples, the backyard bum
isn't yelling, but three invisible guys in the living room are screaming
over 50 dollars and, judging from what's being said, a knife is out. Down
the road on the way to work the backyard bum is waiting for you at the
Heine fountain. He shakes his staff and says that the word is released
at last. When you get to work, the backyard bum is lying on the sidewalk
senseless. At home, the chairs are all flipped over. Time to sit on the
porch for a while, let the dizziness dissipate, head means puddle, gut
means curled up kicking the bottom of a park bench, bumper means bounce.
The chairs flip over and all stuff from the shelves is flying through
the air again. Hello, ladies. Have some tea. Enjoy the arguing and the
recriminations in the parlor, the shouts, that thing (what is that thing?)
over there and all the other company, the nausea. Who knows? Maybe Andy's
coming over. It might be a long wait, but who's going anywhere when here
is right here, and always was? After all, you're home. Really home.]
I loathe myself, but I do love my books.