Title: Selected Tales
Author: Edgar Allan Poe
Page Count/Review Word Count: 406
Poe’s writing is hit and miss, and this book is a great example of that – it just wasn’t much fun to read it, and even if I gave it my full concentration I often found that I’d read an entire story without really understanding or appreciating what was going on.
That said, there are a couple of great stories contained here, including The Tell-Tale Heart, which is arguably his most notorious piece of fiction and the work that he’s most well-known for after The Raven, the poem with its immortal refrain of “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore.'” I liked The Murders in the Rue Morgue as well, perhaps because it included a fictional detective and I’m a keen reader of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie.
Overall, though, I just find it hard to enjoy Poe’s rambling prose, and the fact that his work was written almost 200 years ago doesn’t help – if you think Dickens is occasionally hard to understand, then you need to go ahead and try this, if only to see how wrong you are. Some people relish a challenge though, and if you’re one of those people then you should go ahead but proceed with caution, and prepare to throw a couple of weekends at it to get it finished.
In fact, that’s probably one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy reading it – it’s far too long, at over four hundred pages with miniscule print that strains your eyes when you stare at it, and I eventually gave up on trying to read it on the bus to and from work. In the end, I chipped away at it slowly but surely on the weekends, occasionally sacrificing an hour of my life to read another twenty pages.
Some people are really in to Edgar Allan Poe, and you might be one of them – if so, and if you haven’t read this collection, then it can’t hurt to give it a go. My words of caution are aimed more at the casual reader, because if I struggled to make it to the end, when I read around 100 books every year, then they’re going to struggle too. In many ways it’s worth it, because some of the stories are pretty good, but just bear in mind the huge time drain that it will become.