Today is Edgar Allan Poe's birthday. He was born on this date in 1809 in Boston, Mass., and his life is a cautionary tale for book reviewers like me.Strange, but true.
Poe's life has always been portrayed as a slow descent into drugs, drink, and mental illness. But recently that version has been brought into question. It now appears that Poe was the victim of a PR smear campaign created by a victim of Poe's earlier job as a (quite vicious) book reviewer.
Rufus Wilmot Griswold (whose very name says "villain") became a Poe-hater when the Raven author picked apart an anthology by Griswold. In an amazing act of revenge, it is now believed that Griswold began hammering Poe's reputation the minute Poe died, beginning with a nasty obituary in The New York Tribune. He savaged Poe with his pen without let-up for years. Ironically, he also increased the public's interest in Poe's work. So who's laughing now, Mr. Griswold?
However, I do take from this tale a warning for all reviewers. So I will live by my motto of "Life's too short to read bad books," and I'll stick to reviewing books I like.
Speaking of reading, be sure to enter the contest to win a slew of books (none by Poe, though) by emailing me at readeatthink(at)gmail.com. All you have to do is tell me what your favorite Read.Eat.Think. post has been and your name will be entered in a drawing for a big box o' books. Deadline to enter is 5pm on Jan. 24.