Oh my goodness Dickens!! Do you think you could integrate a little more drama into this one?!? For realsies though--I cannot be the only one picking up a "Days of Our Lives" or "All My Children" vibe here. 
I also ran into multiple times where I was deciphering who what who in this web of relationships. . . Joseph did warn us.  I think it would be wise of us to review the different characters--and I only read the first 10 chapters.  

It appears as though I am going to love this book--I already do.  Though it is a soap opera, Dickens makes every single character make sense and have a purpose.  

Even at 100 or so pages into the book, I quickly drew lines in my brain connecting the lives of the various characters.  I will warn you that there are spoilers in the Wikipedia descriptions, so be careful--they will tell you of the twists to come.  

I am a little more than half way through the first book and I am already having to make myself put it away so I can accomplish something throughout the day.  Stop by the discussion board and share your thoughts so far.  Which character do you find the most intriguing? Why? Who do you think killed John Harmon? How likely is it that these people would all be connected in this manner in real life?

I will post by Sunday my thoughts and some discussion questions for the first book.  

I love your comments!!
Thanks BBC for the dramatization. . . everyone knows Dickens lacks in this department. . . I guess.
Great news guys!! We can totally finish this book in a month's time!! I ran the numbers and if we read 190 pages per week or 27 pages per day we can finish this in 28 days!! Get excited ( I know Joseph is so we can finally start discussing again).

Here is our reading schedule for the rest of May and the beginning of June:
May 13-May 19--Book the First--The Cup and The Lip
May 20-May26--Book the Second--Birds of a Feather
May 27-June 2--Book the Third--A Long Lane
June 3-June 9--Book the Fourth--A Turning

Granted most of us are not exactly reading in a traditional book, so my page numbers (or their equivalents) will vary somewhat.  In the end, though it will all even out and we can get this one under our belts.  I'm looking forward to the challenge.  

I am going to post some preliminary questions to the discussion board just to get us used to conversing with each other.  Please stop in and offer your thoughts/comments/remarks. 

I love your comments!!

Get excited folks.  

I have always been partial to the "greatest novelist of the Victorian period" (according to Wikipedia--don't judge me, you use it too).  I originally wanted to read The Pickwick Papers, but for some reason when I awoke this morning, I was not feeling it.  So, my search continued for a novel by Dickens that would meet the qualifications requested by Joseph and would keep everyone entertained for the couple of months that it would take for us to complete it.  I also wanted the book to have some significance to the author--I like it when actions have many different meanings.  

I eventually landed on Our Mutual Friend.  
This 782 page, 4 book novel surely meets the request for a meaty, stew-y, cake-y, chewy novel.  This is the last complete novel that Dickens wrote.  Similar to his other novels, Our Mutual Friend was published in a monthly serial from May 1864 through November 1865.

I encourage you to go ahead and acquire your copy and to read up a little on Dickens and Our Mutual Friend. The next post will include a little more background on both as well as our proposed reading schedule.  This one will be a little more involved than was Poe, so I will take greater care in its execution.  

Here are links to the text on various websites as well as e-books. 
Google Play Books--This works on Barnes and Noble's Nook too. 
Amazon Kindle
Project Gutenberg -- Several options here
The Text Online--no download required

I am looking forward to this one.  I think it will be fun.  Go ahead and begin reading if you wish.  I imagine we will cover at least the first 3-4 chapters in our first week.  
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed everything that is Poe and was April--Month of Poe, I dropped the ball completely and it is time for a clean slate.  We are scratching what was left--the third and fourth weeks of April and moving head first into May, which means that we have a decision to make.  What would you like to read?
I have received requests for either Dickens or Wilde, so which would you prefer?

Either way, I will choose one of these men to study this month.  Let's get this train rolling again!!  

Leave a comment with your requests!!
I am sure that you all have probably just given up on little ole, me. :-/ I understand, I would have given up on someone else by now, but I have been completely engulfed in research papers.  The fact that I don't feel challenged by them makes it 1000 times harder for me to actually sit down and write them, so here I am, a week away from the due date, without a paper.  I will be done with it soon, I just have to hustle.  I apologize for my excessive absences.

As for the readings, I am about half way through The Mystery of Marie Roget.  This one is interesting, but it is quite long for a short story.  And Poe can really lay on the details.  I feel like it is almost an episode of CSI or some other equivalent mystery/cop show.  (That may be a little exaggerated. . .)

Since I am behind and no riots seem to be starting on here, I will wait and post our readings for the last week of April a little later in the week. 

Any way what are your thoughts so far? How far along on the readings are you?  Is Dupin's roommate supposed to be Poe?

I love your comments!!
So far, it looks like I am more of a fan of the Poe-iest of Poe, that is the mystery, the suspense, the thrillers.  I really like all of it, but these are my favorites.  What about you all?

I figured that since we have read the Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter, that we might as well read The Mystery of Marie Roget. This story is a continuation of Dupin and his accomplice and fits perfectly between The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter.  This is what I get for not doing any research on our readings.  Oh well, I like the element of surprise and the fact that a lot of the time, I choose stories that work well together.  Anyway, the other stories are chosen at random. 

This is our last week of randomness, the last full week of April will consist of the Poe-iest of Poe stories, full of murders, guilt, suspense, and thrills. I am really looking forward to it, though I have sincerely enjoyed discovering the different facets of this classic author.  What are your thoughts?

April 15-21, 2012
  1. The Mystery of Marie Roget
  2. King Pest
  3. Three Sundays in a Week

I will post my response and the discussion questions The Mystery of Marie Roget on Tuesday, April 17, then King Pest and Three Sundays in a Week on Friday, April 20. I love our discussions and your comments!! Keep them coming!!


The picture above is not quite what I pictured as I read, but apparently this was the inspiration for Landor's Cottage.  The whole story was eerie to me, like Emerson meets The Truman Show.  

This story really shows Poe's descriptive abilities. .  .his unending descriptive abilities.  I found myself counting the pages.  With the narrator being so intense, I though for sure some hair-brained turn of events would occur, like him stumbling upon a torture chamber or genetically modified animals.  

All in all, it was calm and peaceful, and disturbing because I was on edge the whole time. It would be a nice story to read by the pool, or to put you to sleep.  

My only question is Why the fence?? I know that everything was carefully placed, but it makes no sense to me. Maybe I was just too paranoid. . . 

Silent and Desolate 

I must say that I did not entirely understand this story either.  I caught the biblical references, but I was left wanting more explanation or something.  It was lacking, in my opinion.  

I got more of an Odysseus vibe from the man in the story, what with the elements changing and mystical words appearing.  

Did I miss something with this one?

Dupin is Back Again

I chose these stories entirely at random, so I was surprised to have Dupin pop back into our lives.  I must admit, however, that I prefer these types of Poe stories to those like Landor's Cottage and  Silence-A Fable.  I am sure that Poe does not care what I think, after all, he never did call to ask my opinion.  

Dupin is an odd duck.  He likes to have complete understanding and control of all situations because he needs to prove that he is better than his opponents (i.e. everyone else that is breathing).  I still am at a loss as to why the narrator continues to live with Dupin; he treats him less than respectfully.  Their relationship perplexes me to no end.  

Questions that came to mind:
  • Why aren't the police officers enlisting Dupin's help more often?
  • Is Dupin a sociopath?
  • Does the Police Prefect not notice that Dupin constantly makes fun of him? Or does he just not care? Or is he too weak to stand up to the man?

Anything Different is the Devil. . . 

As I was reading The Devil in the Belfry, I kept thinking that there was some deep, dark secret about the man of the Belfry that we would discover in the next line or so. Turns out, that the devil was the one who changed their highly regimented routine.  It was pretty depressing for me to read about an entire town, terrified of change, or anything different, with none of the inhabitants finding their situation to be confining.  I began to get a bit of a potential-utopia feel soon after beginning the story.  Utopias always scare me; they're so creepy and sterile and the same (I know, it's the point, but they're still weird).  Also, I bet it was pretty stinky around these folks , what with all the cabbage and pork they consumed--do you think they were regular?

Some Questions-They'll be posted on the discussion board:
  • How do you deal with interruptions of interlopers to your routine?  Do you eventually appreciate the change, more often than not?
  • Being fully aware of how little time we actually have, why did these people find it acceptable to waste away their days watching a clock?  Were they a metaphor for the "worker bee" of today's society?
  • Why did the children not try to run away? All the adults would have been too scared to run after them. 

Just Throw Some Salt on It. . . 

Anyone who did not immediately jump to the conclusion (given the title and the fact that we're reading Poe) that The Oblong Box contained a body is simply not paying attention.  I did like the mystery involved, but people of that time period sure are outwardly nosy, aren't they?  Imagine how difficult it was for Mr. Wyatt to travel knowing his blushing bride was rotting away in the floor next to him.  Obviously it was excruciating, the man did drown himself over the thoughts of leaving her to the whims of the waters alone.  

Some questions (They're also on the Discussion Board):
  • Are you as nosy as the man on the ship? Do you pry into the personal and private details of another's business?  (Sometimes I want to, but I don't because I don't want to look like a weirdo.)
  • Would it have been better (or more calming as a passenger) to know that the box contained an embalmed body, packed in salt?  (The narrator said that it smelled fairly strong.)
  • How would you have handled the situation, if you were the captain?
  • Why was the narrator so openly nosy?

Count Allamistakeo, the Mummy

Once I began to read Some Words with a Mummy, I am pretty sure that I read it in high school, either way, I got more out of it this time.  The electrified monster is a recurring theme in fantasy and mystery writings, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein  and I think I remember a movie on the Disney Channel (Underwraps, if I'm not mistaken) that followed a mummy that came back to life.  Poe's re-invigorated mummy presents different moral, ethical, and historical questions than the others. I found the juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern particularly thought-provoking.   

Some questions
  • What if history really is written this way? What have we gotten wrong so far?
  • What happens when the mummy is never revived?
  • At what intervals would you choose to pause and restart your life? Would it be continuous? Or disjointed?
  • Would you really want to live for 800 years?
  • How much progress have we really made since ancient Egypt?
  • Who or what would you like to bring back to life that is currently and has been dead or extinct? Would you be interested purely in the novelty, in the potential knowledge, or a combination of the two?
  • If we could travel forwards in time, would the converse apply?

Are you enjoying Poe April? I know I am! Share your thoughts/comments here and join in on the discussion boards!
Have fun eating with your families this weekend!!

Happy Easter My Friends

This is just an update on our reading schedule for the second week of April. Here are your links yo, and I only linked ones that are less likely to hurt your eyes.  As last week, I tried to keep it around 50 pages worth of reading (I am using my book as a guide), so it should not be overwhelming.  You can get all of this read in a couple of hours, max. I hope these are as good as the first round. 

April 8-14, 2012
  1. The Devil in the Belfry
  2. The Oblong Box
  3. Some Words with a Mummy 
  4. Landor's Cottage
  5. Silence-A Fable
  6. The Purloined Letter

So, my response post for The Devil in the Belfry, The Oblong Box, and Some Words with a Mummy will be up on Tuesday, April 10, along with questions regarding reach reading on the discussion board. And my response to Landor's Cottage, Silence-A Fable, and The Purloined Letter will be up Friday, April 13 (how appropriate), as well as questions for each of those stories.   

I think I like how we are reading new Poe stories.  As you can see, I tried to continue that trend this week and intend to do so during the third week.  If you have suggestions of a story that you would like to read, just leave a comment.  I am thinking that the fourth week we will read some with which we are more familiar. Let me know if you are itching for one in particular, otherwise, I will choose on a whim. . . 

Thank you all for reading and responding!! I love your comments!