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Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Week in Literary History: Quoth The Raven 'Nevermore'

Edgar Allan Poe has been making headlines again. Last week, Poe enthusiasts worldwide were saddened to hear that for the second year in a row, the infamous 'Poe Toaster' (which sounds like one of those kitchen appliances that burn images into your bread - see here and here) no showed to Poe's grave on his birthday (Jan. 19) to ceremoniously leave a bottle of cognac and roses as he had done previously since 1949. What an enabler. I propose starting a new tradition this week, the week that "The Raven" was first published back in 1845: leaving the DVD boxset of "Celebrity Rehab" seasons 1-3 on his grave site in hopes he will hit the bottle, "nevermore."

If there's one thing that a drunk Edgar Allan Poe is good for though, it's great writing and funny tweets. Like this one, about Virginia Woolf, whose birthday is this week on January 25. Poe claims she had some giant nose, but honestly, I don't really see it. She actually looks like she was kind of a babe in this picture.

Poe is often credited as one of the founding fathers of the short story genre, along with this man: Anton Chekhov, whose birthday was this week on January 29. Chekhov was famous for writing short pieces of fiction loved by writers from James Joyce to Ernest Hemingway and even Virginia Woolf, who wrote in The Common Reader about the seemingly abrupt and dissatisfying endings typical of Chekhov's work, saying "it is as if a tune had stopped short without the expected chords to close it" but that Chekhov provides a "very daring and alert sense of literature to make us hear the tune."

The New Ohio Review Fall 2010 issue is all kinds of awesome. The lead off batter is a poem by Dean Young (who needs a heart transplant, donate funds now) that is quite wonderful (like much of Young's work). There's also a review of Virginia Woolf's novel, Orlando, as part of NOR's "Fiction Reconsidered" section, and our very own Peter Turchi's essay on Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. My personal highlight though, was Stephen Burt's poem, "Ocean State Job Lot" which, being from The Ocean State, hit so close to home I literally sang the jingle to our managing editor out of pure excitement. A fantastic issue that you can subscribe to here.

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