This month’s book was a collection of stories by E.A. Poe. He wrote a lot of poems and short stories, so we tried this book of tales. The most famous in this book is “The Fall of the House of Usher”, and the longest was “Narrative of A. Gordon Pym”. This book did not have any of his poems, although I’m sure everyone has read “The Raven”.
Given that our book club meeting was on the day after Halloween, we focused mostly on his macabre tales, although he wrote all sorts of stories. The common theme among members of our club was how engaging his writing was. You could just feel the pendulum swinging past your chest with the blade severing the ropes that bound you. You could feel the delight of the protagonist as he mortared one brick after another to seal his nemesis inside an underground vault to die a slow horrible death. His intense descriptions can really draw you in and make you feel every drop of rain and all of the wind in several of his stories. He wrote a lot about wind and rain. And try reading about the tell-tale heart without feeling your own heart beating.
He also wrote about other things. “The Balloon-Hoax” was a fake newspaper article about some adventurers who went up in a balloon in Europe and got in a wind current that took them to the U.S. where they successfully landed. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter” were predecessors to Sherlock Holmes stories. “The Man That Was Used Up” may be the most peculiar story ever written. If you want some ideas on how to be a con man, read “Diddling”, which gives all sorts of cons.
Poe’s writings were done in the 1800’s, so the language and style are quite different than we’re used to. If you’re going to read him, be prepared to concentrate. They’re not simple stories. It’s best to have a fire in the fireplace, a real book (not digital), and maybe a glass of wine.