Saturday, November 3, 2012

Poe's the real deal

So today is the delayed Halloween party of the book club. Its theme is "Steampoe," literally a combination of steampunk and Edgar Allan Poe. I've read a few steampunk novels but have never sampled any of Poe's works. And I think that could be easily remedied.

Good thing that Penguin English Library has a book on Poe, which contains 19 very entertaining stories. The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Tales has all the classic Poe short stories: "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Cask of Amontillado," to name a few. It's a beautiful collection of Poe's works, with the reader having no choice but to read each story in one sitting.

Ah, Poe, why did it take me so long to read your nightmarish, weird, Gothic, horrifying stories? I've always considered myself quite wide read when it comes to the horror genre, but now that I've read Poe's tales, most of the novels that I've read seem to be the work of amateurs. Poe's ideas are so wonderfully bizaare that you think it's either he's brilliant or he's one crazy SOB. I feel that only a person with a sick mind can come up with these dark tales.

Among the 19 tales collected in this anthology, my favorites would have to be "Ligeia," "The Fall of the House of Usher," and, of course, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." I think "Ligeia" is one creepy ghost story, with the ghost finding her way back into her lover's arms and her lover eagerly welcoming her back. And the Gothic atmosphere of "The Fall of the House of Usher" is unparalleled. You can cut the menace and the creepiness with a knife.

Curiously, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is more scientific than anything. What the characters do to untangle the mystery is very unorthodox. Now who (or what) committed the brutal murders is a surprise in itself. While this tale may seem to be a detective story when you finish it, its opening is one that needs an empty stomach for its sheer gore. A woman and her daughter are found in their house dead. The daughter has been pushed feet first up the chimney; the mother is found with her throat slit so deep that when people remove the body, her head falls off. Say good-bye to your appetite, dear reader.

Poe died at the age of 40. Quite a shame to leave the world at that young age, when you think about it. Who knows what tales of violence, macabre, madness, and horror he would've written if he had lived longer? Do take the time to read (or reread) Poe, dear readers. Your world will be darker for it.

Read this book if:

  1. Horror is your genre.
  2. You love the unexpected twists in endings.
  3. You know that, sometimes, the world is a dark place.

12 comments:

Jack said...

Oh, let me introduce you to my old friend, pain! Had it not been for Edgar, I'd have spent my whole life reading comic books. Introduced by an enlightened 5th grade teacher, I was 'nevermore' afraid of the classics. Didn't like 'em all, didn't hide from them, either. Any teacher who let a 5th-grader read Poe today would probably be up on charges, but those were happier times...

Peter S. said...

Hello, Jack! Your teacher seemed a great person to introduce you to this writer! Woot woot for wonderful teachers!

Overthinker Palaboy said...

Ayan! Fan ako ni Poe :)

Peter S. said...

Maganda pala mga short stories ni Poe! Check ko nga din yung poetry nya.

jzhunagev said...

I love Poe! When it comes to Gothic writing, he's the man I read, admire and turn to!

Nice review, Peter! :)

Peter S. said...

Hi, jzhunagev! Thanks! Hope to see you again soon!

Becca Lostinbooks said...

I have loved Poe since I first read and memorized The Raven in high school. I haven't read Ligeia yet, but your excitement over it is making me scan my bookshelf for my Poe collection.

Shani said...

Peter! I love the imagery of Ligeia. I was considering going as Rowena transforming into Ligeia for the party. Part corpse bride, part mummy (for the shroud), steampunkified, of course.

Peter S. said...

Oh, Ligeia is so creepy! I'm sure you'll like it, Becca.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Shani!

That would have been awesome! But your costume last weekend was already awesome!

Ryan said...

I have a collection of his works around here somewhere. I always mean to pull it out this time of the year, and never do. One day!

Peter S. said...

You should, Ryan!