Posted by: Sally Ingraham | September 10, 2010

R.I.P. V: Poe, Hawthorne, and Gorey

Well it is suitably chilly this morning – a lovely 55 degrees in the lawn outside the library where I sit wrapped in a blanket, making the most of a few hours of free time. Through the trees and above the rooftops there is thick writhing fog, also suitable. It will burn off later leaving the town flooded with a warm orange light. Hard to believe that a week ago we were drooping in 90 degree heat – September is now charged up, rearing and ready to gallop off into the glow of Autumn sunsets.

Er, right. Anyway.

short story perilMy foray into my R.I.P. challenge reading choices has been brief so far, although entirely satisfactory. I began with a few short stories by Poe – The Gold Bug, and The Murders in the Rue Morgue. I am impressed by Poe’s ability to conjure a sense of place. The description of the spit of island where Legrand and the unnamed narrator of The Gold Bug endeavor to solve a riddle is to the point, but vivid:

This island is a very singular one. It consists of little else than the sea sand, and is about three miles long. Its breadth at no point exceeds a quarter of a mile. It is separated from the mainland by a scarcely perceptible creek, oozing its way through a wilderness of reeds and slime, a favorite resort of the marsh-hen. The vegetation, as might be supposed, is scant, or at least dwarfish.’

Or this bit from The Murders in the Rue Morgue:

…as my worldly circumstances were somewhat less embarrassed than his own, I was permitted to be at the expense of renting, and furnishing in a style which suited the rather fantastic gloom of our common temper, a time-eaten and grotesque mansion, long deserted through superstitions into which we did not inquire, and tottering to its fall in a retired and desolate portion of the Faubourg St. Germain.

I like Poe’s phrasing and word choice. He also writes a gripping tale! The Murders in the Rue Morgue was especially chilling, although the revelation of the perpetrator of the crime made me squawk with glee and give props to Poe for his special brand of twistedness. Can’t wait to read more.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story Young Goodman Brown was less to my taste, but still interesting. The adventures of a night with the devil, the triumph over temptation, but the ultimately gloomy outcome lead me to believe that Hawthorne’s impression of the world was dreary at best. Again, good atmospheric writing, although with less POP than Poe’s.

My Gorey reading was pure fun, of course. I read Lovely L’s review of The Gashlycrumb Tinies a few days ago, and then a day later saw the book in a shop and absolutely couldn’t ignore the coincidence. (I also had a gift certificate to spend in that shop!) The little tiny fabulous book came home with me, and I’ve already read it through several times with cackles of pleasure. It’s an alphabet book, with each page devoted to the woeful ending of an adorable child – ‘E is for Earnest who choked on a peach…S is for Susan who perished of fits‘. Follow the link through to Lovely L’s site to see pictures from the book, for it is Gorey’s illustrations that are devilishly divine. I need more Gorey in my life – I’ve liked him since I was a child and saw his artwork on the jackets of Joan Aiken’s Wolves of Willoughby Chase series. It’s high time I had a collection of his work.

And what have I been imbibing while reading so perilously, you might ask? Poe’s stories were accompanied by an Oktoberfest from Otter Creek Brewing (Middlebury, VT), and Samuel Adams Octoberfest from The Boston Beer Company – both good, mellow beers with that lovely orangy color that I associate with autumnal brews. The Hawthorne was read before breakfast (unfortunately!), but the Gorey was enjoyed with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Punkin Ale (Milton, DE), which is one of my favorite true pumpkin beers (just because it has “pumpkin” in the name doesn’t mean it’s actually got any pumpkin in it…but here’s a good article about pumpkin beers which will help you and me locate the best!). This beer smells like pumpkin as you raise it to your lips, and you can taste brown sugar and nutmeg and allspice as it washes down. A feast for the taste buds to go with Gorey’s treat for the eye balls. ๐Ÿ™‚

And that’s my R.I.P. V challenge so far. I’d say it’s going, well, rippingly of course!

Perilously yours.


  1. Not so dreary. Twenty Days with Julian & Little Bunny by Papa gives a quite different impression.

    • Having read that post of yours, perhaps you are right. I like the idea of a down to earth Hawthorne. I’ll have to check that out.

  2. Pumpkin beer. Today. Yes. Also, I look forward to what you think about Poe’s “The Cask of Amantillado” whenever you get to it, Sarah. For my $$$, one of the leanest, most delicious short stories…ever. Until then, enjoy the Fall weather!

    • I’ve got an autumn release from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. waiting for me at home. Wish there wasn’t still so much of the day left before me…! ๐Ÿ™‚ And a volume of Poe is winging toward me in the mail so I’ll have plenty of him to keep my beers company. Hope you enjoy the Fall weather too.

      • Sarah, so I had a pint draft of Post Road Pumpkin Ale from Brooklyn Brewery (I think) at lunch. Held up to the BBQ eats without a problem but would go down swell on its own without food, I’m sure. Should have ordered another one “to go” because I am now thirsty again typing this up, ha ha. Cheers!

  3. hmm, pairing reads with beer is an excellent idea!
    I plan to spend some time with Poe this weekend, as you are right, he does the atmospheric so incredibly well.
    I was planning to read Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown also; a re-read where I purposefully evade that melancholic end and bask in the shivers of the woods when he going to some mysterious meeting in the dark.
    look forward to more of your takes on imbibing–both the beer and the books.

    • Hawthorne does spring a haunting New England wood right out of the pages in that story. It’s excellent. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I LOVE Gorey & the Gashleycrumb Tinies! (And The Doubtful Guest, and just about everything by him I’ve seen.) He’s totally what I read to cheer myself up when I’m feeling down, which is maybe a little ironic but who could resist the hilarity? Love it.

    Happy autumnal beer-drinking!

    • Gorey humor – I love it. That seems to suitably describe the more twisted side of what makes me laugh!

  5. Yow. Poe and pumpkin beer. I’ll have to try that sometime.

    • Do. It’s worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Richard – I’ll have to look for that pumpkin beer from Brooklyn Brewery today when I get a chance to stop by a local fairly expansive beer store. I’d love to hear about any others that you discover! ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. I wonder why wordpress doesn’t let a conversation go further than two replies…?? Erg.

  7. I really like Poe and Hawthorne, but I haven’t read nearly enough from either of them. I must do so!

    • I heartily agree! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Your pumpkin beer description literally made my mouth water. Oh, yum.

    I first discovered Gorey’s drawings in the covers, frontispieces, and maps he did for John Bellairs’ young adult gothic horror books back in the 80s and 90s…I had no idea he did The Wolves of Wiloughby Chase too! Great books and beer reviews, thanks and happy reading!

    • Thanks, glad you enjoyed my scribblings. ๐Ÿ™‚ I read one or two books by Bellairs as a teen, but those might be good ones to revisit for the R.I.P. challenge – at least for the illustrations.

  9. Seems so appropriate to imbibe for Poe given his own indulgences. A few of us have thought about wine and book pairings before so I love how you go for it here. And love Poe too. Off to a great RIP start!

    • I’m definitely having fun reading and drinking with a purpose, and I’m looking forward to much more. We’re only a quarter of the way through R.I.P.!

  10. I have never heard of pumpkin beer, but oh my, that description you gave makes it sound delightful. Must.Track.Down! As for your reading – I, too, remember Gorey’s illustrations best from the Bellairs books. I actually re-read one last year for RIP. I had totally forgotten how much I loved them:) The House with a Clock In The Walls is the one I revisited, and would highly recommend it. I may have to go add some Bellairs titles to my list now!

    • I think I’ll head over to my library later and pick up The House with a Clock in the Walls. I have a vague memory of it, and so an increasingly niggling itch to read it again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. […] Poe, Hawthorne, and Gorey The […]

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