24 March 2014

That Bobble-Head

by Fran Rizer

Aeden, now fourteen
Recently Aeden, my fourteen-year-old grandson, discovered Edgar Allan Poe.  When I picked him up from school, he immediately began telling me about this "cool" story he'd read about a man who walled up his nemesis. 

When I asked, "The Cask of Amontillado?" he informed me that I'd pronounced "Amontillado" incorrectly as it was "an Italian word with the the 'l' sound silent." (Leigh, does the fourteen-year-old in your life right now just love to "correct" you?)

I informed him, "Edgar Allan Poe grew up in the South– Richmond, Virginia– and probably pronounced the 'l' just as I did."  Then I recommended that he read "The Tell-Tale Heart," and teased him he could pronounce those "l"s however he liked. Since the story is long out of copyright, it was possible to pull up the entire text on the computer.  We went from there to BaM, where I bought him the almost 2,000-page Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe.  I drew stars by the titles of stories and poems I think best.  An avid reader when he was young (self-taught at age three), Aeden has been into other hobbies for the past couple of years.  I'm pleased to say he's back to reading for pleasure and has asked, "Who else of those old people wrote such good stuff?

Virginia Clemm Poe
Poe's first wife was only 13 and he was
27, but the marriage was happy until her'
death from tuberculosis.
Aeden is not the first young person I've known who became interested in literature because of Edgar Allan Poe. Years ago, I taught a fifth-grader who had no interest in much of anything.  Not yet twelve-years-old, he was with a gang and in school only because Youthful Offenders required him to be there.  One morning he met me with a tattered copy of an old book.  After explaining that he'd found it while helping clean out his recently deceased grandmother's house, he said, "I want you to read this poem."
It was "The Raven."  Then he asked, "Do you have any more poems by this man?"  He later asked me if it were true that Poe married his thirteen-year-old cousin, which he did.

I won't bore you with a long report on Poe, his life, and his works.
If you want to know more than you do, check out the life section of the Poe Museum webpage.  https:www.poemuseum.org/life.php

Remembered for his lyrical poems and short stories, he also wrote numerous critiques and newspaper articles as well as one novel. MWA uses bobble-heads of Poe are most likely because he is credited with inventing the modern detective story, but he also was an innovator of the science fiction tale.  What might he have done if he'd lived past forty?

As some of you know, I love jokes and cartoons.  I can't move forward without sharing these with you:
From what I've read, Poe received his fair share of
rejections except when he edited the publication. 
Sadly, Poe probably felt like this much of the time as
he had financial problems his entire adult llife.

Poe isn't my real topic for today. I'm sharing my goals in writing.

Recently, I've been running in circles so far as what I want to write. I'm still tweaking my horror novel; I'm half through a thriller; and I'm sixty pages into a new cozy series.  For the first time in about twenty years, I wrote a poem last week.  I've been doing some soul-searching, and I don't know what the heck I want to do.  No, I have no illusions that any of my writings will ever become as well-known or as lasting as Poe's. 

But--I've determined what my writing goal is.  I'd like to write something that would have that kind of impact on a reader.  It doesn't have to sell for a lot of money nor be remembered over a hundred years. I'd just like to have a reader want to read more after reading one of my efforts.

Perhaps I already have that with Callie's repeat readers, but I need to do something new and worthwhile, not necessarily children's literature, but good enough to inspire a young person to read more.

What's your writing goal?

Until we meet again, take care of… you.


  1. Fran, I keep a bobblehead Poe that I got at the Edgars one year on my desk right next to the computer for inspiration. I learned a lot about Poe in the seven years I blogged on Poe's Deadly Daughters (hommage to Poe in his mystery writer hat). And there's no short answer to your question. One of my goals that I've achieved is making readers laugh and cry. Now my goal is making MORE readers laugh and cry (and buy, of course).

  2. Really enjoyed this, Fran. I, too, was one of those kids who discovered Poe as a young boy. He is still a companion. Just a few weeks ago I sat down and read through a collection of his poems--some are unbelievably good! I predict that young Aeden will travel with Poe all his days.

    As for goals, I have only one--to write real good someday, and have some child, just like your grandson, pick up a piece of mine and fall in love with reading because of it. Seems simple enough.

  3. Fran (and Liz and David), I think your goals are perfect.

    Fran, yes, 'Donnie' smiles when he corrects me on occasion. I grin too!

  4. One of my prized possessions is an Edgar Allan Poe action figure, which hangs on my wall behind my desk. My goal? To write. Just keep on keeping on... Oh, and that it be good stuff.

  5. Liz, David, Leigh, and Eve,
    Sounds like we all have similar goals==to write well and create reactions in our readers. I loved Poe as a child, too, and I believe he will be inspirational for older kids whenever they read his works.
    It's such a tragedy that he died. It doesn't matter to me why or how==just that his talent was cut off so young.

  6. This is an after thought. Have any of you watched the television series The Following, the one where Kevin Bacon is always chasing a cult leader named Joe? Personally, it offends me that they use Poe's face masks when killing. Anybody else react that way or is it just me?

  7. Edgar Allan Poe went to UVa, but was asked to leave. All these years later, they keep his room much as it was when he attended the school, with his name on a plaque on the door.

    My daughter went there & was a member of the Jefferson Society, a debating & literary society which Poe also belonged to back in the day. Later on, some upstarts founded the Raven Society. They claim Poe was a member of it, but it ain't so.

  8. I've never watched the show, Fran, but Hollywood's penchant for tasteless choices never fails to amaze and sadden me.

  9. Mystery Scene Magazine had an article last year complaining about the misuse of Poe in that show. Personally, I avoid serial killer stuff.

    When my daughter was in middle school I used to read out loud on car trips. (My wife was driving, I assure you.) I tried some Poe and my kid, veteran of many GOOSEBUMPS books, asked if he wrote anything REALLY scary. She finally agreed that the Masque of the Red Death qualified.

    I had better luck with my nephews daughter, buying her an illustrated collection of Poe's stories at his birthplace. A year later when a teacher assigned one of her stories she was able to say she had read all of his classics.

  10. Rob, my students (grades 4 and 5) read Goosebumps all the time. I thought they were probably explained at the ends so that the vampire wasn't real and the dad was not turning into a vine in the basement.
    (I got a masters in elementary education during the time they were changing the endings of classics to make them less gory. The wolf always turned out to be a good guy.)
    One day, they asked me to read a Goosebumps to them and they laughed out loud at my shock that it really was a scary book right to "The End." R. L. Stine recently released RED RAIN. It's a horror story with a note on the front, "Don't let your kids get hold of this one."

  11. Oh, I've read many a Goosebumps. LOL And, not only does my 11 yr old love to correct me; my daughter and older son do too. lol

  12. Dixon, three young people to correct you when you're wrong and keep you straight! That doesn't leave a lot for your wife to have to do.

  13. Fran, I must've been about 10 when I found a Poe book in the school lunchroom. (For the record, my favorite E.A.P. story is "Some Words With a Mummy.") My goal is to finish a bunch of short-stories this year!

  14. I didn't dis over Poe until I was about 14, I was too busy reading Spillane, Prather, Earle Stanley and just about any private eye or mystery I could get my hands on. I never have been a fan of real scary stuff...just sex and violence. My goal this year is to learn more about Windows 8, and try again to get my books and stories on the Ebook format. And get back to the third in the Zoe Barrow series.


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