Posts Tagged ‘Edgar Allan Poe’
May 17, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
January 29, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
December 28, 2012 | by John Lingan
I was dragging my five-year-old daughter through the musty stacks of my favorite used bookstore last spring when a middle-aged man, squatting in the Sci-Fi section next to a brimming cardboard box, caught my eye and reminded me of someone.
“Excuse me,” I asked, “are you a writer?”
“I am,” he said, standing up and straightening his glasses. His eyes were deep set and hard to read. He was bashful.
“Are you Michael Dirda?” I asked.
It was him: the book critic and author, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, known apocryphally as the best-read man in America, whose essays had enticed me to read everything from Little, Big to Three Men in a Boat—and here he was, squinting his way through the lowest shelves in the same crusty bargain dungeon I came to all the time.
“Amazing. Nina, this is the man who wrote that little letter that we have in your George and Martha,” I told my daughter. Nina was nonplussed.
“When I was eight, in 1992,” I explained, “I wrote a letter to the Washington Post when James Marshall died and you printed it in the Book World section and even wrote a sweet little response. And her grandpa put a photocopy of that letter in The Complete George and Martha for her.”
December 18, 2012 | by André Aciman
The Sixth Avenue El train has just cleared the steep bend off Third Street. It is now picking up speed and will, any moment now, bolt uptown. Next stop, Eighth Street, then past Jefferson Market, Fourteenth Street, then all the way north till it reaches Fifty-Ninth Street. But perhaps it is not racing up at all but grinding to a stop after that notoriously difficult curve before Bleeker Street. It’s hard to tell. The blue lettering on the train’s marker light must spell something, but it’s hard to decipher this as well. Under the el two vehicles seem to know where they’re headed. To the left of the train, on the corner of Sixth and Cornelia, a scrawny, wedge-shaped, twelve-story high-rise strains to look taller than it is. Its numberless lighted windows suggest that, despite darkness everywhere, this is by no means nighttime, but evening, maybe early evening. The building’s residents are probably preparing dinner, some just walking in after work, others listening to the radio, the children are doing homework.
This is 1922, and this is Sloan country. Read More »
December 13, 2012 | by Colin Fleming
Up until the early spring of this year, I considered myself an absolute Christmas fiend. Not in the Grinch sense of breaking out the Boris Karloff accent and green grease paint and plotting how I might swipe presents, but rather trying to figure out, as early as possible, how best to immerse myself in a holiday that I loved like no other, in a typically over-the-top fashion. You know that person you read about, who bops his head along to Christmas songs on the oldies station—yes, Brenda Lee, you rock around that tree indeed!—the day after Thanksgiving, who insists on seeing Rudolph “live,” every year, because it’s just more real on TV than Blu-ray? I was that guy. Before I had occasion to become a different guy. And before I decided to spend this holiday season with M. R. James.
November 28, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
Discussing the recent damage done to the Poe House and Museum earlier, I mentioned in passing that Baltimore was the only American city to have honored a local literary light. Well, our ever-vigilant readers were quick to remind us of other bookish squads around the globe.
The Toronto Argonauts, we were informed, “just won Canada’s Grey Cup in Homeric fashion.” (One could theoretically make an argument for the Spartans, too.) Edinburgh’s Heart of Midlothian Football Club may have technically been named for a jail, but it was Walter Scott’s 1818 novel, The Heart of Midlothian, that made the title globally famous.
And if we’re really digging deep, it wouldn’t do to ignore the 2012 London Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville. While, officially, the latter is named for named for Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the estimable Medieval Material Culture Blog makes a compelling case for another (possibly subconscious) motivation:
These mascots would be right at home with all of the fantastical peoples described in The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. And he certainly does an amazing amount of international travel for a 14th century Englishman—as far afield as Egypt, Persia, Syria, Ethiopia, Amazonia, and so on.
Granted, he has nothing to do with athletic competition, as far as I recall. And it is a bit, er, fanciful. But I could see these mascots being modern-day descendants, perhaps, of the peoples of the islands around Dondun.
And surely, some of these Dondunese islanders would be strong contenders for medals—the ones with horses’ hooves, who are “strong and mighty, and swift runners; for they take wild beasts with running, and eat them” could win the marathon. The ones “that go upon their hands and their feet as beasts, … all skinned and feathered, and they will leap as lightly into trees, and from tree to tree, as it were squirrels or apes”—well, that sounds like an amazing gymnastic routine right there, doesn’t it?