Real Americans' Real Reviews of Poe

Compiled by Colin Pilney
(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 visit.]

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 men.]

[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 himself.
[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 deleted it.]

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.]

Reviewer: SusanG19456@mcmansion.sprawl
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.






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