Once upon a midnight dreary

I finished Reynolds’ Redemption Ark, towards the end with great amounts of speed.  The narrative really picked up, uncharacteristically for Reynolds, at the end of the story and I found it a pretty good romp.  His ideas are so big, so vast, and his use of science (astronomy, astrophysics, cosmonomy) throughout really fleshes out and backs up his fictional ideas.  I enjoyed this one the best of the three that I have read so far, but will take a break before I read the third and final book in the series, Absolution Gap.  It is unusual for me to take such a break, but I feel like his books are so dense and heavy that I need to do so.

So, I’ve moved on to something lighter and more cheery – Edgar Allan Poe.  I was reading recently that it was the 200th anniversary of his birth last year and, coupling that with the fact that I now live in a city where he once lived and where his house is a historic site, I decided it was time to re-visit some Poe.  I say re-visit because I have read one or two of his stories before (“The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”) but never much more than that and those at a very young age.  I knew that on my bookshelf sat an omnibus edition of his complete works, prose and verse.

I also read recently in a magazine a little bit about him, about his ideas, his stories, his poems, and a little bit of his personal history.  Talk about a macabre story!  All of this combined to kindle my interest and get the omnibus down from the shelf.

So far I’ve read two poems, probably by far the most famous two: “The Raven,” and “Annabel Lee.”  Both really worked on me; they are incredible.  I, of course, like most of us, was at least familiar with “The Raven,” but really only as a pop culture icon.  I’d never actually read it.  Let me say this: put it on your list of things to read before you die, and read it aloud.

“Annabel Lee” was equally as good and probably more chilling (no pun intended), though the mad insistence at the end of “The Raven” followed by the refusal by the raven to depart is pretty haunting.  I also really appreciate that they rhyme.  Their flow and meter makes them come alive.

Of stories I have also read two – “MS. Found in a Bottle,” and “The Devil in the Belfry.”  The first was rather scary and filled with a sense of dread, but is kind of antiquated now that we know more about the globe.  The second was actually rather silly, but I think it was at least intended to be partly so.  It has a kind of horror to it, but one that is singular to itself.  I have set to begin “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” tonight.

What are your favorite Poe stories?  Which should I read next?  Why?