Posted by: Mark | June 24, 2019

Waiting with Fish

After several doctors’ offices without fish tanks, finally I’m back to a waiting room with one. My theory which isn’t very accurate is that waiting rooms with aquariums are faster than those without.

These fish are ugly and colorless. I haven’t factored that into things.

Posted by: Mark | June 23, 2019

William Wilson

After literary reviews and descriptive essays, Poe pulled out another weird tale.

Did I Remember It? Vaguely, to the point that I almost didn’t include it in this re-reading. I couldn’t remember the ending so I had another go at it.

What’s It About? A man who calls himself “William Wilson” recounts his life, plagued by a double. At school he first meets the other William Wilson who looks and dresses like the original, but the doppelganger can’t speak louder than a whisper. This so upsets the original that he leaves school to run wild. However, when he tries to cheat at cards, the double appears to warn his victims. When he tries to seduce a married woman, the double blocks his efforts. Finally the original challenges the double to a duel. He wins, only to find himself looking at his bloody reflection in a mirror.

Did Poe Stutter? Not exactly. The dueling elements come up in other stories but nothing quite like this one. Many other writers were inspired/ripped off Poe.

I’m glad I re-read this one. It doesn’t get as much acclaim as his more famous stories but it definitely should.

Posted by: Mark | June 22, 2019

The Quacks of Helicon–a Satire

When readers think of Edgar Allan Poe, they want one thing–his reviews of satirical poems. This essay delivers exactly that.

Did I Remember It? As with previous posts, I don’t remember if I read any of Poe’s nonfiction.

What’s It About? Poe reviews a friend’s poem:

We repeat that we are glad to see this book of Mr. Wilmer’s; first, because it is something new under the sun; secondly, because, in many respects, it is well executed; and thirdly, because, in the universal corruption and rigmarole, amid which we gasp for breath, it is really a pleasant thing to get even one accidental whiff of the unadulterated air of truth.

“The Quacks of Helicon,” as a poem and otherwise, has many defects, and these we shall have no scruple in pointing out–although Mr. Wilmer is a personal friend of our own, and we are happy and proud to say so–but it has also many remarkable merits–merits which it will be quite useless for those aggrieved by the satire–quite useless for any clique, or set of cliques, to attempt to frown down, or to affect not to see, or to feel, or to understand

Did Poe Stutter? He reviewed plenty of works but this is the only satire he wrote about. He seemed delighted that an American wrote a satirical poem.

Posted by: Mark | June 21, 2019

Landor’s Cottage

Most of Poe’s stories couldn’t have a legitimate sequel, the narrative is too complete or the protagonists are too dead. “The Domain of Arnheim or The Landscape Garden” is more of a prose poem or descriptive sketch than a traditional story so Poe felt free to revisit it.

Did I Remember It? Not at all.

What’s It About? Poe makes it clear that his intention is restricted to describing a house and its gardens. He does exactly that.

Did Poe Stutter? Considering this is the closest that Poe came to a sequel, very much so.

This comes across more as a writing assignment from a creative writing class than a story. It seems odd today but it’s exactly what Poe wanted to do. If nothing else, it’s proof that Poe could do more than write horror.

Posted by: Mark | June 20, 2019

The Domain of Arnheim or The Landscape Garden

I have read a few reviews that regard this as Poe’s worst story and one that thought it was his greatest. To no great shock, I fell in the middle.

Did I Remember It? Re-reading it reminded me of a Clive Barker story but nothing of Poe came back to me. In real life, America’s first multi-millionaire was John Jacob Astor who was enjoying his wealth while Poe was writing the story.

What’s It About? A man inherits $450 million and sets out to create his perfect surroundings.

Did Poe Stutter? If you count this as an attempt by Poe to explore the art of landscaping, it’s similar to his “Philosophy of Furniture.”

Depending on how much a reader would like to explore art theoy and criticism, this story runs the spectrum of best to worst. It didn’t grab me but I can see why Poe wanted to write it.

Posted by: Mark | June 19, 2019


After “Peter Snook,” “Astoria” doesn’t seem as strange. Washington Irving wrote a book about an early American expedition to the West and Edgar Allan Poe, who is best known as a literary critic, reviewed it.

Did I Remember It? The more of Poe’s reviews and essays that I read, the more I am convinced that I only read Poe’s fiction back in the 80s.

What’s It About? Irving’s book is about an early, dangerous attempt to explore the American West. Poe describes Irving’s work in detail, far more than I would expect or want from a modern reviewer.

Did Poe Stutter? I might not have remembered them but Poe legitimately was a nuanced critic. I can’t say I’m getting much out of them except for the bragging rights of completing Poe’s work.

I wish this review led to compilations between Poe and Irving. Irving was a full decade older than Poe but lived until 1859, not 1849 like EAP. Maybe in another dimension, Irving’s influence led to Poe living a long life, producing stories we can only dream of. It’s pretty to think so.

Posted by: Mark | June 18, 2019

Magazine-Writing–Peter Snook

At long last, I throw up my arms and admit that Poe’s lesser works have defeated me. I can’t tell how to review “Peter Snook.”

Did I Remember It? This is yet another of Poe’s works that I might not have read first time around. Should it be classified as fiction or nonfiction? I only remember reading fiction when I was young but, at any rate, I don’t remember this one.

What’s It About? Poe launches into an ideological criticism of American magazine writers, holding them inferior to Europeans. He then focuses on a story of Peter Snook about love, betrayal, and melodrama.

But was this whole thing a comic send up as I first assumed or was Poe reviewing an actual writer as many people on the Internet seem to believe?

I don’t know. I can’t tell. I can’t find a definitive source to be sure.

Did Poe Stutter? Well, Poe definitely wrote comic send ups of his contemporary writers. He also reviewed their work so in either case, he’s not breaking new ground. I just can’t tell you which ground it was.

Posted by: Mark | June 17, 2019

200th Post

200th post! Halfway to my goal of 400.

This is even more pointless than usual but I’m glad that one of my non-reading resolutions is looking good. Plus it’s a nice break from nonstop Poe.

Posted by: Mark | June 17, 2019

Review of Stephen’s “Arabia Petrea”

Poe wasn’t just a horror writer. I think I’ve made that point a few dozen times. He also wrote a review of a travel book which is still available for purchase.

Did I Remember It? This clearly wasn’t a work of fiction so I don’t know if I read it before or not. I had no memory of it at all.

What’s It About? The title says it all. Poe reviewed the book favorably but not so much that I feel compelled to order it.

Did Poe Stutter? He wasn’t shy about his views on art and other writers but this is his only legitimate book review.

Honestly, it won’t be long until I forget this essay again. After H.P. Lovecraft, I was expecting Poe to swerve off and reveal the book was a gateway to Hell. Up until the last page I was expecting a demon to pop up but it’s just a review. Maybe I would have been better inclined if it was clear this was a nonfiction essay, not just stacked among mystery, horror, and comic stories.

For what it is, it’s fine but I had no indication that it was nonfiction.

Posted by: Mark | June 17, 2019

Resolution Update 24

I started getting better then crashed. It’s been exactly two months since the final round of chemo and it should be out of my system in another two. It’s eventually going to get better.

1. Run 365 miles: 2.1 on the elliptical machine and 3.3 on the treadmill, for 32.9 miles overall.

2. 3,000 push ups: 180. No change again for 15 weeks.

3. Lose 15 pounds: I’m scheduled to go to the doctor next Monday so I’ll find out then.

4. Send out 100 resumes: 11.

5. Send out 100 manuscripts: 36.

6. Write 40,000 words and five new stories: 16,280 words and six stories.

7. Support 12 local artists: two (Nathan Singer and Katherine Wynter). No change.

8. Read ten new H.P. Lovecraft stories: Complete:

“The Rats in the Walls,”
“The Thing on the Doorstep,”
“In the Vault,”
“Arthur Jermyn,”
“Herbert West: Re-Animator,”
“The Lurking Fear,”
“The Tomb,”
“The Transition of Juan Romero,” and
“The Shunned House.”

9. Read 15 works: Complete:

War with the Newts by Karel Capek,
Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill,
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh,
The Godfather by Mario Puzo,
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Self-Tormentor by Terence,
The Eunuch by Terrence,
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett,
Phormio by Terence,
The Woman of Andros by Terence,
Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
The Trial by Franz Kafka.

10. 400 blog posts: including this one, 198.

10a. Read five chapters of the Bible: Complete–chapters one through five of Lamentations.

10b. Read a book of the Bible: Complete–Obadiah (the shortest book in the Old Testament)

11. Read 10 more of Lovecraft’s stories: Complete:

“Imprisoned with the Pharaohs,”
“Poetry and the Gods,”
“In the walls of Eryx,”
“The Temple,”
“The Crawling Chaos,”
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,
“The Green Meadow,”
“The Nameless City” and
“The Call of Cthulhu.”

11a. Finish another book from the Bible. Complete – Book of Revelation.

11b. Finish a third book from the Bible. Complete – Third Book of Maccabees.

12. Reread 20 stories of Poe. Complete –

The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Psfaall,
The Balloon Hoax,
Von Kemplelen and his Discovery,
Mesmeric Revelation,
The 1,002nd Tale of Scheherazade,
MS. Found in a Bottle,
The Mystery of Marie Roget,
The Premature Burial,
The Island of the Fay,
The Oval Portrait,
The Assignation,
The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.,
How to Write a Blackwood Article,
A Predicament,
X-ing a Paragrab,
Angel of the Odd,
Mellonta Tauta, and
Loss of Breath.

12a. Read at least 10 chapters from the Bible. Complete – Ecclesiastes.

12b. Read another book from the Bible. Complete – the Book of Joel.

13. Read ten short stories of Robert E. Howard. Complete.

Casonnetto’s Last Song,
Dermod’s Bane,
The Hyena,
The Dream Snake,
The Cobra in the Dream,
The People of the Black Coast,
Dig Me No Grave,
The Cairn on the Headland,
The Haunter of the Ring, and
People of the Night.

13a. Read a non-Biblical sacred text. Complete–Kama Sutra, Part I

13b. Read another non-Biblical sacred text. Complete–Kama Sutra, Part II.

14. Read Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. Complete.

14a. Read a non-Biblical sacred text. Complete–Kama Sutra, Part III

14b. Read another non-Biblical sacred text. Complete–Kama Sutra, Part IV.

15. Read another 20 stories of Poe. 13 (actually I’m finished and have started the next resolution but have only posted about 13).

The Business Man.
Maelzel’s Chess-Player.
The Power of Words.
Colloquy of Monos and Una.
The Man in the Crowd.
Conversation of Eiros and Charmion.
Shadow–a Parable.
Silence–a Fable.
Philosophy of Furniture.
Tale of Jerusalem.
Thou Art the Man.
Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling.

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