Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Monday, April 30, 2012

Poe in Pages

Yesterday, I wrote a few words about how Poe's stories have made it into film; coincidentally, in the mail yesterday came a gift from my older brother, a DVD of the 1915 silent film The Raven.  (After I watch it, I'll write a bit about it, as well.)

But today I wanted to write a little about Poe's appearances in the pages of others--especially in recent years.  Below, a list of some of the ones I've read--and I'm betting there are others I don't know of.

1999: Harold Schechter, Nevermore.  This one unites Poe with ... Davy Crockett!  Poe's journal, the Southern Literary Messenger, has panned Crockett's book; Davy wants an apology.  Soon, they've joined forces to solve a mystery.

2004: Andrew Taylor, An Unpardonable Crime, takes place while Poe, a boy, is in England with the Allans. And back into his life comes his father, David Poe, who disappeared shortly after he was born. (We have no idea whatever about the fate of  David Poe, a minor stage actor; he has vanished from history.)

2006: Louis Bayard, The Pale Blue Eye, a mystery story involving Poe while he was at West Point.  Poe joins forces with a retired NYC constable to solve a hanging, a missing corpse, a heart removed from a body.  (Sounds appropriately Poe-ish, doesn't it?)  I enjoyed this one a lot.

2006.  Matthew Pearl, The Poe Shadow.  Pearl deals with the mysterious death of Poe (and actually unearthed a few factual things about it that had escaped academic researchers).  Into the story comes one of Poe's fictional creations, the detective C. Auguste Dupin, star of "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and Poe's other two detective stories. Pearl imagines Dupin taking on the case of Poe's death.

2007.  Joel Rose, The Blackest Bird, a novel about the murder of Mary Rogers, the case that Poe later transformed into "The Mystery of Marie Roget."  (There is another recent book--nonfiction--about that case: The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder, by Daniel Stashower, 2006.)  There's also the actual case of J. C. Colt involved here.  Joel Rose did a tremendous amount of research on Poe, on 19th century NYC--a good book.

2008.  In Joyce Carol Oates' story collection (Wild Nights!) is a story "Poe Posthumous; or, The Light-House."  Oates imagines Poe waking up at a lighthouse, where he gradually figures out his situation--and fate. Maddened by loneliness, Poe says "I have become, in this infernal place, a coil of guts with teeth at one end, and an anus for excretion at the other" (29).  Appealing images!  By the way, "The Light-House" was an unfinished short story Poe was working on when he died.  It, like Oates' story, uses diary entries for the narrative.

2011.  Mat Johnson, Pym: A Novel.  A recently fired professor discovers a manuscript that suggests that Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym was based on fact.  So off goes the prof (as profs are wont to do) to check it out.  He and crew go to the South Pole, down in the abyss, where--amazing!--they find Pym, still carrying on ... and some surprising stuff going on down there under the ice.

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