I finally finished the Poe book, and overall it's a keeper, although the other B&N compilation would have been a better choice for a fall reading challenge. Because I was in that mindset I much preferred his gothic stories and poems, although some of the other ones aren't bad. He was a clever guy and a challenging author. I sort of enjoy poetry, although I need to have my hand held a bit in order to really get into it. So, Poe: he rhymes. He makes reference to classical concepts I am completely unaware of.
It's strange, but I feel cheated a little bit when I read about (or meet actual) people who were forced to memorize poems in elementary school. I don't think a little forced rote memorization is a bad thing...just in moderation. "The Raven" would be a cool poem to memorize but there's no way I would be able to carry it off with the right sort of intonation. As much as it saddens me to write this, I will never be the kind of person who is able to quote poetry from memory without sounding like a complete prat, unless it's a dirty limerick or something. And even then...
Yeah, I'm really terrible at this book reviewing stuff. Back to the Poe: one short story I thought was interesting was called "The Imp of the Perverse." It reminded me a little of Crime and Punishment, but way shorter, obviously. It's in his gothic vein, although it starts off like one of his metaphysical stories. The narrator commences by setting up his theory about 'the imp of the perverse,' essentially that which compels us to do things we either know are wrong, or are dangerous, or go against logical actions. It's the human condition responsible for naughtiness and worse. Eventually we discover that the narrator has fallen victim to this imp (perhaps related to "impulse," I don't know if that was intentional or not), committed a crime, felt compelled to confess and is now awaiting the consequences. It was not as straightforwardly gothic; perhaps that's why I liked it.
A poem I did honestly enjoy was "The Conqueror Worm." If you're in the mood for morbid poetry, do a search and read this one. It's short, it rhymes, it makes at least a little bit of sense...all characteristics of a good poetry moment for me. Even if I hadn't liked the poem, I just like the idea of a conqueror worm as death. I think it's death, anyway. It involves a play, mimes, hither- and thithering, a Phantom and a blood-red thing that writhes! and writhes! with mortal pangs. Have I sold you yet? I have this image in my head of Marcel Marceau being eaten alive by a giant earthworm. Or maybe one of those things from Dune.
In other news, I am well into and enjoying The Woman In White. If you are perchance looking for a little bit of classic gothic and Dracula and Frankenstein are "been there, done that" then I can recommend this book. I hope to be able to review it at the beginning of next week.
At the moment I think there's a pretty poor chance I'll be able to complete this challenge, which just goes to show how much my life has changed. If there were ever a mostly useless skill that I had, it would be the ability to read a novel very quickly (and promptly forget, but that's another story -- pun intended -- and I'm working to improve it). I am only reading one other book at the moment and it's pretty short, so in theory I should be able to crank out four gothic/mystery novels in a very short time. However, it's just not happening, unless I resort to cheating and reading my copy of Very Scary Stories (for adolescents) that I have in a closet somewhere. Anyway, I shall soldier on, if nothing else but for the glory of the Fighting Squirrels.
I will definitely be able to finish The Woman In White, and my next selection will be The Historian, which by a complete stroke of luck fell into my hands. I couldn't be more thrilled. So far, I've got 2 selections that I already had on my shelves and had been intending to read, and 1 contemporary selection that I didn't have to pay for and actually wanted to read. Yay.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Posted by Pardon My French at 10:07 PM