This book organises all of Poe’s writings into just a few convenient categories: Tales of Mystery and Horror, Humor and Satire, Flights and Fantasies, The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket, and The Poems. Of these, I think the first contains the best examples of Poe’s genre-defining style, including one of the first detective stories ever written (predating the strikingly similar Sherlock Holmes stories by 46 years). The scary tales tend to be short on plot but ooze with atmosphere–the effect is almost more pictorial than literary. Overall, I didn’t enjoy this book very much and a lot of the stories felt pointless or tedious to read, but I respect Poe’s groundbreaking literary influence.
[Why I read it: I wanted to be familiar with more of Poe’s works than just The Raven.]
I don’t think I’d ever read a “Christian romance” before, but now I feel as if I’ve read every single one ever written. Almost everything about this book was cliched, from the handsome widower trying to escape his grief to the beautiful and independent female doctor who develops an immediate (and spoiler temporary) disliking for him. To be fair, the archetypes were intrinsically appealing, it was a lot less preachy than could be expected, and there were even some artistic touches: an insightful sentiment here and there, or a deft description. But ultimately, nothing could compensate for deficiencies of plot and characterization, which were contrived, worn-out and predictable all around. The plot was especially lame–a Nancy Drew take on National Treasure with some “Touched by an Angel” thrown in; however, as an antidote to my last read, Kafka, it was not entirely unwelcome.
[Why I read it: my brother’s mother-in-law thought I might enjoy it and thoughtfully gave me a copy. There was no dust cover, so I thought it was historical fiction…]
I was extremely excited to come across this collection of mystery stories written by the authoress of the Scarlet Pimpernel books, but ended up disappointed to find The Man in the Corner neither so unique, engaging nor memorable as I had been led to expect from Orczy’s other works. The two main characters aren’t very likeable and the mysteries feel somewhat formulaic – lacking subtlety and sureness of touch.
[Why I read it: random thrift store find.]
I hope Clint Eastwood is considered a “great mind,” because I only found out that he directed a film based on this book after reading it and thinking That felt exactly like a crime/drama/thriller movie starring Sean Penn (ok, maybe not that specific). It is very well written and dramatic, but I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t so R-rated. On thinking it over, I guess I have different (more sensitive) standards for books than for movies, which is a new and interesting realisation.
This book is fun, but not substantial, being short and populated with two-dimensional characters. The twist at the end was entertaining, but I did not feel that it was very skillfully supported by the preceding plot development. The whole thing gave me the impression that Agatha Christie had, by this time in her career, settled into a trustworthy and unique, if somewhat mundane and formulaic, writing style. I would be interested to read some of her earlier works.