Thursday, September 27, 2007

R.I.P.

I didn't read the fine print and apparently I'm supposed to post reviews of what I'm reading in order to complete the challenge. Egad. So here goes.

I'm partway through Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (which, if you've been observant enough to note, is not the same book as the one I'm proclaiming to currently read on my sidebar, but will have to serve as close enough). Honestly, I'd rather be reading some Southern Gothic or The Thirteenth Tale, but this is good for me.

This book doesn't contain his classic tales such as The Tell-Tale Heart. And if I had known that, I wouldn't have forked out the $2 to buy this book and would have instead bought the book actually featured on my sidebar. Bygones. So I'm gamely reading his lesser-known works and they're not bad. They don't have the same effect as Stephen King did during my adolescence (It gave me nightmares), but since I'm all grown up now (ahem) I can handle something a little more sophisticated.

So far the stories I've read seem to fulfill the criteria of gothic tales, involving grotesque characters, a chateau in shambles, death, disease and so forth. My favorites are "Metzengerstein" (rival families, a fire, a painting, a demon horse -- how's that for a summary), "Morella" (fateful marriage, intriguing wife, more intriguing daughter), and "King Pest" (drinking with weirdos, involves an allegory but hell if I've figured it out yet). He still manages to surprise me with twists, and I learned some things -- metempsychosis and assignation. Favorite may be a bit of an exaggeration as I've only made it through 5, so perhaps it's more apt to say I didn't care for the other 2 stories.

"The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfall" was way too long and involved too many 19th century scientific explanations that were over my head. It's more of a sci-fi story to me than a gothic tale, and while I can enjoy science fiction in the end I need to be able to figure out what's going on. There wasn't much of a plot...a man commits some murders and then escapes to the moon, manages to come back and wants to be forgiven because of his great achievement, then there's a discussion as to whether the whole thing was a hoax or not. I suppose in astronomy circles this is highly entertaining, but to me, not so much. Pages and pages were devoted to explaining his mathematical calculations and inventions and things like "Day 13: The Earth looks surprisingly smaller," whereas the truly interesting part would be to describe what happened on the moon. Oh, well.

It must have been fun to speculate about life on the moon before the Americans (allegedly) landed on it. There must be other old books out there on the subject I'd like that have a nice mix of plot and scientific speculation...now only to find them.

And if you've made it this far, you earned an A+.

5 comments:

Court said...

I've never read any Poe, but this sounds quite interesting. But I can totally understand how it would be a disappointment if you had been hoping to get The Tell-Tale Heart and it wasn't included in the book.

Eva said...

What Southern Gothic do you recommend? I think I'd really enjoy it, but I'm not sure where to start. :)

Debi said...

Oh goody, an A+. And an easy one at that...I enjoyed your review!

Nicola said...

Stephen King ruled my nightmares as a kid too! And thanks for the A+

Pardon My French said...

Hello, everyone -- this is a new type of blogging for me, so thanks for stopping by. I'll try to return the favor soon. Eva, I really like Carson McCullers so that might be a good place to start. The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter is her best known work. Flannery O'Connor is also known as a Southern Gothic author.