Edgar Allen Poe at 200

Photo courtesy The New York Times

Flashlight in hand

Flashlight in hand and under the covers — because I wasn’t supposed to be up so late at 10 years old — I remember reading the scarifyingly satisfying The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe. Staying up late to read the can’t-put-it-down story against the rules was only the first hurdle to overcome, because after reading the last word at 11:00 PM, I was not able to go to sleep for the rest of the night with his horrifying hymn to murder ringing through my mind.

Jan. 19, 2009, marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe

Poe died at 40, on Oct. 7, 1849, but his poetic and storytelling genius changed literature forever.

In honor of Poe’s birthday, here’s a link to a slide show about Poe from The New York Times:
New York Times Slideshow

Here’s a link to The Tell-Tale Heart at Literature.org:
The Tell-Tale Heart

Here’s a link to the Poe Museum.org, which documents his weird and disturbing life:

Scary stories today

One of the scariest books I’ve read lately is, A Good and Happy Child, By Justin Evans. This book was so scary that after finishing it late one night (again with the finishing books late at night — I guess I set a precedent when I was little!) —  make that morning because it was 2:00 AM — I couldn’t go to sleep with the book in my house. That’s right. I could not go to sleep with that scary book anywhere in my house. Yes, a primitive, an illogical reaction. I wrapped it in a plastic bag to
protect it from the snow and placed it outside my front door — and
locked the door.

I gave that book to a friend, one who loves scary stories.

Synopsis of the book from the publisher

Thirty-year-old George Davies can’t bring himself to hold his newborn son. After months of accepting his lame excuses and strange behavior, his wife has had enough. She demands that he see a therapist, and George, desperate to save his unraveling marriage and redeem himself as a father and husband, reluctantly agrees.

As he delves into his childhood memories, he begins to recall things he hasn’t thought of in twenty years. Events, people, and strange situations come rushing back. The odd, rambling letters his father sent home before he died. The jovial mother who started dating too soon after his father’s death. A boy who appeared one night when George was lonely, then told him secrets he didn’t want to know. How no one believed this new friend was real and that he was responsible for the bad things that were happening.

Terrified by all that he has forgotten, George struggles to remember what really happened in the months following his father’s death. Were his ominous visions and erratic behavior the product of a grief-stricken child’s overactive imagination (a perfectly natural reaction to the trauma of loss, as his mother insisted)? Or were his father’s colleagues, who blamed a darker, more malevolent force, right to look to the supernatural as a means to end George’s suffering? Twenty years later, George still does not know. But when a mysterious murder is revealed, remembering the past becomes the only way George can protect himself — and his young family.

A psychological thriller in the tradition of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History — with shades of The Exorcist — the smart and suspenseful A Good and Happy Child leaves you questioning the things you remember and frightened of the things you’ve forgotten.

Reasons (via reviews) why that book is so scary

A Good and Happy Child is a rare achievement — a literary horror story that’s deeply intelligent, beautifully written, and seriously chilling.”–Entertainment Weekly

“Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sleeping with the lights on.”–Parade

“A scary, grown-up ghost story that combines Southern gothic with more than a twist of The Exorcist.”–Portland Tribune

“Beautifully written and perfectly structured. The result is a literary thriller of the first order.”–Washington Post

“A Good and Happy Child unsettles the imagination with its twisting path into a private hell. Evans’ story tingles with psychological suspense as it explores the subterranean world where faith meets fear, reminding us how hard it is to rid ourselves of our demons.” — Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child

“[A] satisfying, suspenseful first novel. . . . Young George’s intriguing story unbalances the reader right up to the book’s deliciously chilling end.” —People

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