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Coffee with Poe Paperback – 3 Nov 2003
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Coffee with Poe lets readers experience Edgar Allan Poe's Life firsthand. It is filled with actual letters to his three fiancees, his literary contemporaries (Irving, Hawthorne, and Longfellow), his spiteful foster father. Coffee with Poe shows that only Poe's life was more frightening and mysterious that his stories!
From the Author
Coffee with Poe is historical fiction based on the life of Edgar Allan Poe. It includes many actual letters to and from Poe, including those by Hawthorne and Irving. It is also based on Poe's like of coffee.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
A few of Poe's letters and poetry are interspersed through the text. The added context of the when and why he was writing these letters made these additions more enjoyable than they would be on their own. After reading Coffee with Poe I'm not sure if I would have liked Poe had I known him in person. In multiple letters to John Allan he both rails against him and then begs him for money, which is ironic and a bit childish. The author downplays Poe's drinking, perhaps how Poe would have done in real life but does discuss Poe's low tolerance of alcohol. Poe's financial struggles, his romantic relationships, and the quarrels with his many detractors were also well illustrated in this work.
Why I didn't give it five stars
There were some typos and editing oversights, especially towards the end of the book. Some of the dialogue, especially in the first few chapters, was not realistic and even a bit cringe-worthy at times. I almost didn't make it past the first few chapters due to this, but I am glad I did as the book picked up once it got to Poe's adult life. There were a few anachronisms, for instance a character ordering a Caesar salad while out to lunch with Poe. I don't think these were a thing at that time?! However these flaws are forgivable in the overall scheme of this book. A large amount of research obviously went into this work and these are just minor quibbles. I would recommend this to any fan of Edgar Allan Poe who wants to know more about the tragic but fascinating life of this author.
Did I notice these flaws? Of course. The author occasionally confuses pronouns, and there are several syntactical mistakes. But the book is fascinating and engaging. Barger has a gift for storytelling, and he brought Poe to life in a way that captured the tragic elements in both his life and character. True to Poe's motto, Barger has cultivated a work of literature from the little oatmeal of correspondence that remains.