Edgar Allan Poe, king of 19th century mystery and the gothic horror tales, is credited with inventing the modern detective story, wrote stories about inventions, science, and adventure, and, as people may remember him best, was a master of the macabre. The 169th anniversary of his own mysterious death in Baltimore was this month. To mark the occasion, Camden Park Press published a notable anthology of short stories and poems inspired by Poe’s works, reimagined for contemporary times.
Lyn Worthen edited the collection and—beyond amazing—the submissions were due August 30, and the book became available in early October! In her introduction, she says “I believe it is the evocative imagery he paints in sometimes hypnotic lines of pen and ink that have captured our imaginations; the sensations of fear, loathing, grief, and despair that have bound his characters to our souls. . . .those same elements that the authors in Quoth the Raven have so thoroughly captured.”
Just in time for Halloween ordering and reading, here are some of my favorites:
- “My Love, in Pieces,” by Tiffany Michelle Brown, inspired by Poe’s “Berenice.” The experience of writing it, she says, was “both thrilling and terrifying.”
- “Marcela,” by Penelope Paling. As in Poe’s “Liegeia,” Marcela is more than happy to continue the tradition of haunting her husband’s subsequent loves.
- There’s “The Cask of Amontillado” and other diabolical death traps. Then there’s Hugh J. O’Donnell’s “The Montressor Method.”
- If you’re an ailurophobic with a special horror of black cats, this volume will give you nightmares! Perhaps you should read “The Ca(t)sualty” by Donea Lee Weaver and “The Black, Long-Haired Domestic” by John Kiste in the daytime.
- And Kenneth C. Goldman’s funny tale, “Get the Door for Me, Will You, Edgar?” about the trials of a high school English teacher. A more horrifying situation would be hard to come by.
My own story in the collection, “Tooth and Nail” also is inspired by “Berenice,” and concerns a young woman’s obsession with her twin brother. She’s developed a bad case of meth mouth and fixates on the blindingly white teeth of her brother’s new fiancée. No good comes of this. The villain of the tale is “the red-haired Wil Griswold,” a name and description inspired by Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who bore a grudge against Poe. After Poe’s death, Griswold wrote a scathing biography that started many of the rumors about the author’s depravity, drunkenness, and dissipation—which later scholarship proved to be false.
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