Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: "Complete Tales & Poems" Classic a Month #10

Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
2 out of 5 stars

I was excited to read some Poe for my October classic, but I didn't really get into it as much as I thought I would. I think I started out with the wrong stories and that kind of set me back for the whole month. I know of a lot of his stories (from The Simpsons lol) but I've never actually read much. I did not read this entire collection, but picked out several that I was familiar with and a few I wasn't. I kind of wish I had read something else for October, but I'm not sure what.

I started out with The Purloined Letter, which is more of a detective story than mystery. It was very confusing to me and after I'd read it, I realized it was because it was meant to be the 3rd in a story line about one detective. Duh. So, then I decided to read The Murders in the Rue Morgue, which is the 1st story of that line. I think I liked it? It was very gross in parts, describing the gruesome murders and such (highlight if not squeamish: "Their roots (a hideous sight!) were clotted with fragments of the flesh of the scalp."). The writing is very formal and stiff, it felt like work to me, if that makes sense? And, I hate to say this, but it made me feel stupid lol. I couldn't figure out the ending and that was irritating. So I decided to skip the middle story and move on to something I was more familiar with.

The Raven is such a lilting, flowing poem, you can't help but read it in that kind of sing-song voice. When I think of poems, I think of something like this, where the words slide over you and thru your heart and brain. I actually read this twice, first to just enjoy the rhythm and second for the meaning and story. For me, this is where Poe shines.

Leave my loneliness unbroken!-quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take they form from off my door!
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

The problem I have with most short stories is that I usually want them to go longer lol. And such is the case with The Tell-Tale Heart. I think I could have enjoyed a full story about this person going mad over an old man's filmy blue eye. Or rather, not mad, because as the narrator tells us, "you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs." There's a kind of humor to this story, a dry sarcasm at times, that I enjoyed very much.

The last story I read was The Black Cat, which I had heard was Poe's most terrifying piece. Well, it was. It was horrible! I'm basically going to give the whole story here, so if you want to read it on your own, I'd stop here! If you love animals, I would recommend NOT reading this one.

This quiet boy grows into a man with a great fondness for animals. He gets a bunch of pets, including a black cat, with his wife and loves the cat more than anything, until the man grows older and in a rage one day, injures the cat. (I really don't want to repeat the details, because it's honestly sickening.) The cat survives but flees from the man now, which makes him angry, and he finally kills the cat, hanging him in the garden. That night, the house catches fire and the man and woman barely escape. Months pass and the man decides (for some stupid reason) that he wants a new cat. He finds one at a bar one night that looks exactly like his old cat, including the "injury" his first cat received, except for a strange white marking around its neck.

The new cat loves him and follows him home and the guy likes him...at first. Soon he feels like the cat is mocking him with his love and wants to hurt this cat too, but can't bring himself to, out of guilt from the first. One day, the man and his wife go down to the cellar for something and the cat accidently trips the man on the stairs. This enrages him and he raises the ax (I have no idea why he had an ax) in anger at the cat, but his wife stops him. You'd think that would be the end right? Nope. The man turns on his wife and buries the ax in her head. Yeah. What's with this story?

He decides to put her in one of the walls of the cellar and plaster her up. After that, he goes in search of the cat to "take care of it" too, but it ran off so the man is happy at last. A few days later, the police show up and take a look around, looking for the woman, but don't find anything. The guy is totally calm and a little over-confident: when they are leaving the cellar, he is babbling and says something about "check out these well-constructed walls" and knocks the one where his wife is hidden. Suddenly, there's a horrible yowling and crying. The police pull the wall down and there, sitting on the dead woman's head, is the cat. WTH?? Why did I read this story? Why didn't the wife do something when her husband killed the first cat? What's with Edgar Allan Poe? I've read some things that he was seriously damaged, but this is jacked.

(Picture courtesy of RedRibbonRoses)


  1. I'm reading Poe this month, too, and I wasn't sure what to think about the black cat story. Glad I'm not the only one! I thought that maybe I was missing something and didn't "get it"....

    1. Oh good! I'm glad I'm not the only one either lol! I told my sister about that story and she was just like "Why are you reading this???"