Monday, October 21, 2013

LIFE LIST UPDATE – No. 483: Read the 'Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe'

For as long as I can remember, going all the way back to my days as a grammar school student, I’ve been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. Best known for his horror short stories, he’s also considered the inventor of the modern detective mystery story and the forerunner of authors like H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. What’s not to like, right?

Several years ago, I ran across a great hardback book called the “Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.” Published in August 1984 by Doubleday, this 832-page book contains all of Poe’s short stories, all of his poems and his only novel, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.” While thumbing through this thick book, it dawned on me that I really couldn’t claim to be a big Poe fan since I’d only read a fraction of his overall work.

For that reason, I put “Read the ‘Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe’” on my “life list” a couple of years ago. Earlier this year, on Sept. 11, I started reading this book, and, reading at a rate of about an hour a day, it took me 37 days to finish it. Parts of this book were extremely dense and hard to read, and the small type size didn’t help either. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, but only to say that it took some effort to get to the end of this one.

The book was divided into five sections, with the first section, “Tales of Mystery and Horror,” containing Poe’s best known short stories. That section contained 27 short stories, including “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Tell-tale Heart,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Masque of the Red Death.” One story in this section that I’d never read before and really enjoyed was “MS. Found in a Bottle.”

The next section of the book was called “Humor and Satire.” This section contained 25 short stories and some of them made me snicker a few times. That’s no small feat for stories that are over 100 years old. One story in this section that I highly recommend is “The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.”

The book’s next section is called “Flights and Fantasies” and more than a few of these stories read like early science fiction. There were 14 stories in this section, and the one that made the biggest impression on me was “The Balloon Hoax.” It’s about a guy who flies to the moon in a hot air balloon. It’s pretty entertaining if you don’t take it too seriously.

As mentioned, this book also contained Poe’s only complete novel, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym,” which I had never read. I probably enjoyed reading this more than anything else in the book. It’s a tale of the high seas and exploration and ends on a mysterious note that reminded me a lot of a H.P. Lovecraft story.

The final section contained Poe’s 55 known poems, including such favorites as “The Raven,” “Annabel Lee,” “The Bells” and “Eldorado.” Most of these poems were very short, but there were some long ones in the mix as well. A couple that I can’t remember ever having read that I enjoyed included “The Haunted Palace” and “The Conqueror Worm.”

In the end, I really enjoyed reading this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone out there who considers themselves a big fan of Poe’s writings. How many of you out there have ever read this book? What did you think about it? What’s your favorite Poe story? Let us know in the comments section below.

1. Ate a funnel cake
2. Ate a peach from Chilton County, Alabama
3. Ate at Big Daddy’s Grill in Fairhope
4. Ate at Callaghan’s Irish Social Club in Mobile
5. Ate catfish at the Stage Coach Café in Stockton
6. Ate octopus
7. Ate pigs feet
8. Attended a Beulah Campground service
9. Drank a fresh lemonade at Toomer’s Drugs in Auburn
10. Drank a Mimosa
11. Drank Cognac
12. Drank goat’s milk
13. Hiked the Grand Canyon
14. Joined the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
15. Joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans
16. Made an origami animal
17. Listened to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” without interruption
18. Listened to The Beatles’ “White Album” without interruption
19. Planted a vegetable garden
20. Ran the Alligator Trot 5K in Florala
21. Ran the Battle of Mobile Bay 5K on Dauphin Island
22. Ran through the Bankhead Tunnel in Mobile
23. Read all the Hellboy graphic novels
24. Read “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie
25. Read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl
26. Read MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech
27. Read “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer” by Warren St. John
28. Read “Savage Wilderness” by Barry Ralph
29. Read the “Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe”
30. Read the entire Bible
31. Read “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr.
32. Saw the Ginkgo tree in Evergreen
33. Started a fire without matches
34. Took the downtown Selma walking tour
35. Tried 100 different types of beer
36. Visited Ellicott’s Stone
37. Visited Packer’s Bend
38. Visited the Grand Canyon
39. Visited the grave of Lewis Lavon Peacock
40. Visited the Hank Williams Statue in Montgomery
41. Watched “A Streetcar Named Desire”
42. Watched “Brazil” (1985)
43. Watched “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
44. Watched “Dracula” (1931)
45. Watched “Easy Rider” (1969)
46. Watched “Frankenstein” (1931)
47. Watched “Nosferatu” (1922)
48. Watched “This Is Spinal Tap”

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: The whole point of these life list updates is NOT to draw attention to myself or to anything that I’ve done. Instead, I hope to encourage others to accomplish their own bucket list goals. I’m just a regular guy, and if I can do these things, so can you.)

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