I'm author and editor Holly M. Kothe. Thanks for stopping by my writing and review blog.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Toast to Poe

My literary world has been immersed in all things Poe (and the very fine John Cusack) lately. Sparked by my weekend couch-sitting/wine guzzling and film viewing, I’ve been inspired to brush up on my Edgar Allan Poe history and finally sit down to some of his works I had yet to read.

Now I've loved Poe's writing since my elementary school librarian played a creepy recording of "The Pit and the Pendulum" in the dark for my fifth grade class, but my recent enthusiasm is all because of the excellent movie my boyfriend went out and purchased, The Raven. Directed by James McTeigue and written by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare. I’ve paid particular interest to the writers because Cusack’s dialogue is so cutting and witty. This movie’s funny. Funny if you like to witness a good burn, one that is thought-provoking as well as insulting. Cusack’s delivery of phrases like “mouth-breathing buffoon” and “intellectual non-entity” is fitting to Poe’s reputation as a cut-throat literary critic.

 Here’s several more of my favorite biting lines:

“If I’d known my work would have such a morbid affect on people I would have devoted more of my time to eroticism.”

 “I believe God gave him [Poe] a spark of genius and quenched it in misery.”

 “The only thing he’s [Poe] killed is a bottle of brandy.”
Borrowing direct quotes from “The Raven”,“Annabel Lee”, "The Masque of the Read Death" and a personal favorite of mine, "The Cask of Amontillado" to name a few, the movie plot of a serial killer using Poe’s stories as inspiration plays out scenes related to several of Poe’s most well-known stories.

I have far from read every one of Poe’s works, but it’s a fun goal to strive for. I’ve crossed off a story from my “Things of Poe’s I Need to Read” list this weekend, and that was The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

Gotta say, it’s not a favorite. That makes a lot of sense though, considering this is the story that launched the detective genre and deemed Poe “Father of the Modern Mystery”. The detective genre has never been my thing, and though I do love an episode or twenty of House, it’s not something I’ve read a lot of. Perhaps I should. Obviously Poe’s darkly lyrical style still rings through, so I’d  highly recommend reading anything of his you can get your eyes on. What I enjoyed most were the beginning descriptions given by the narrator involving his especially shrewed friend and roommate, Dupin. For example:

“At the first dawn of the morning we closed all the massy shutters of our old building; lighted a couple of tapers which, strongly perfumed, threw out only the ghastliest and feeblest of rays. By the aid of these we then busied our souls in dreams --reading, writing, or conversing, until warned by the clock of the advent of the true Darkness. Then we sallied forth into the streets, arm and arm, continuing the topics of the day, or roaming far and wide until a late hour, seeking, amid the wild lights and shadows of the populous city, that infinity of mental excitement which quiet observation can afford.”

Even if the central subject matter isn’t my favorite, I will always love the way Poe uses words. He could describe the mating rituals of the raccoon and I’d still be into it. YAY WORDS!!!  

So, in the spirit of October and the season of the raven, read some Poe or watch Vincent Price (or even Homer Simpson) do it. It’s true that Poe is someone who has been read and critiqued and analyzed beyond the point of NEW, yet he's as relevant and inspiring to readers and authors today as he was back then. There are still those of us who have yet to DIG (hardy har) into all of his stories and poems. His tales still shock and compel, even compared to modern horror standards.

And go ahead and give the movie a try. It’s Poe. It’s Cusack. What more could this Caffeinated Literary Lady ask?

On a side note, I have written my own short story, "The Poe Toaster", the title referring to the mysterious, long-standing tradition of an anoynymous gentleman witnessed in the dark, early hours every January nineteenth (Poe's birthday), toasting to Poe's grave marker in Baltimore, leaving behind the open cognac bottle and three roses. This short of mine has yet to see the light of publication, but it's a testament to my love of all things Poe-esque. He's a true inspiration. 

On the point of my own writing and publication status, don’t ask. Why do you think I was having a Cocktail and Cusack Evening?  



  1. I love Poe! Did you ever see "Fall of the House of Usher" on video? I saw it when I was a kid and sadly can't find it now. :( If you like reading check out my book Locked In which you can buy by going to http://www.llumina.com/store/lockedin.htm and feel free to check out my writing blog at http://bloodshadowritings.blogspot.com

  2. Thanks rainbowbunny! "Fall of the House of Usher" is one of my favorites and I've seen a few film versions. I'll check out your writing blog...I like the title (:

  3. Stopped by to return the favor.

    If you go the e pub route, there is lots of helpful info available. I recommend not paying for anything. I am always around if you want to know anything specific. I basically use Word and Smashwords Style Guide which is extremely clear.

    I see from your blog that you are a proficient writer and will have a lot of fun with it.

    If you are plunging into my works I would recommend Lawman for starters. Not at all heavy. The reviews on Sacred Sin are all over the map and there is kind of a lot of heavy sex I've been told. Untying Barney's boots was one of my favorites. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Keep in touch! Thanks for the follow.

    Also tweet your blog posts. Your blog hits will increase like mad.

  4. Thanks, Virginia!

    Not pay for anything? That sounds like an AMAZING idea. And yes, I do have to figure out that Twitter thing. I've never even looked into it. Though I do add links to my posts on Facebook. Also, uh, is it wrong that your description of Sacred Sin kinda makes me want to read that one first?


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