Poe man's Poe
Just what cataclysmic failure of mind and body could have befallen the marvelous Edgar Allan Poe in the tormented days between September 27 and October 7, 1849, when the poet died raving and inconsolable with the name “Reynolds,” on his lips?
In this slightly hallucinogenic telling, Poe teams up with Rod Serling to create a “final narrative,” worthy of the Twilight Zone.
Whether Scottsville resident Frank Lovelock, a PVCC English professor, will manage to disengage his own head and send it spinning in a black-and-white vortex while he reads from his new novel, Lenore, on November 4, he clearly is after that effect.
His tale, which he characterizes as “a labor of love for Poe,” begins with the master of macabre already in the throes of paranoid delusion. Haunted by the thoughts of his beloved cousin and bride-to-be, Poe is staggering about Richmond on the eve of his fateful departure north.
Lurching from bad company to worse, Poe soon finds himself drugged, mesmerized, and locked in a coffin. It appears that the writer is to be brought down by his very own literary ghouls.
Meanwhile, a love story is in full bloom, and an escape is in train. Mixed identities morph with phantom characters, and Poe’s own creation, the detective C. Auguste Dupin is dispatched to save Poe and the hapless lovers from, well, what’s the worst that can befall ill-fated folk in the snares of the surreal?
Lovelock’s Poe scholarship is meted out in faithful passages of poetry, philosophy, and shrieking dismay. His hard-pressed inventions (fair skinned fugitive slaves who are the spitting image of Poe and his beloved meet some of Oliver Twist’s tormentors who have apparently made a wrong turn) are somehow neutralized by Lovelock’s carefully reproduced style of the mid-19th century novel (in which aforementioned Reynolds urges Poe to take nourishment, but the poet declines “unable to command equilibrium”).
Just as Poe himself would undertake, the telling of Lenore picks up pace page by page, like a possessed metronome or yes, a tell-tale heart. As the narration passes from Poe to the slave Lenore to the desperate Danton Reynolds, the spiral of illusion wraps tighter and tighter, locking the principals and their shadowy counterparts in a dance that Poe himself is calling. At the finale even the raven appears– and Edgar Allan Poe, true to history, dies a loathsome death in a Baltimore hospital.
The official cause of death is rabies.
Lenore (Xlibris Books) is available at Xlibris.com and Amazon.com. Frank Lovelock will read from his novel on November 4 at 12:20 in PVCC’s Jessup Library and again at Scottsville Library at 7:30pm.