Coffee With Poe: A Novel of Edgar Allan Poe's Life (英語) ペーパーバック – 2003/11/1
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Coffee with Poe, award-winning finalist (historical biography category) of the USA Book News "Best Book Awards," is a historical novel detailing Edgar Allan Poe's life. The book is filled with actual letters to his three fiancées, his literary contemporaries (Longfellow, Irving, and Hawthorne), and his bitter enemies. The characters are brought to life by interactive dialogue that may have taken place given what history teaches us. Read about the life of America's most haunting and mysterious author today and see Edgar Allan Poe brought to life like never before! "To give us a historical fiction look at Edgar Allan Poe is great. The start where we are at his mom's funeral gives a little insight into why he may write the way he does. It is very interesting the ideas the author has put into the story about Poe. I like the idea of detailing the life of Edgar Allan Poe into a historical fiction novel. . . . A great idea to give us some insight into why Poe may be the way he is." Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer
A few of Poe's letters and poetry are interspersed through the text. The added context of the when and why he was writing these letters made these additions more enjoyable than they would be on their own. After reading Coffee with Poe I'm not sure if I would have liked Poe had I known him in person. In multiple letters to John Allan he both rails against him and then begs him for money, which is ironic and a bit childish. The author downplays Poe's drinking, perhaps how Poe would have done in real life but does discuss Poe's low tolerance of alcohol. Poe's financial struggles, his romantic relationships, and the quarrels with his many detractors were also well illustrated in this work.
Why I didn't give it five stars
There were some typos and editing oversights, especially towards the end of the book. Some of the dialogue, especially in the first few chapters, was not realistic and even a bit cringe-worthy at times. I almost didn't make it past the first few chapters due to this, but I am glad I did as the book picked up once it got to Poe's adult life. There were a few anachronisms, for instance a character ordering a Caesar salad while out to lunch with Poe. I don't think these were a thing at that time?! However these flaws are forgivable in the overall scheme of this book. A large amount of research obviously went into this work and these are just minor quibbles. I would recommend this to any fan of Edgar Allan Poe who wants to know more about the tragic but fascinating life of this author.
Did I notice these flaws? Of course. The author occasionally confuses pronouns, and there are several syntactical mistakes. But the book is fascinating and engaging. Barger has a gift for storytelling, and he brought Poe to life in a way that captured the tragic elements in both his life and character. True to Poe's motto, Barger has cultivated a work of literature from the little oatmeal of correspondence that remains.