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Poe's Lighthouse    edited by Christopher Conlon order for
Poe's Lighthouse
by Christopher Conlon
Order:  USA  Can
Cemetery Dance, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Edgar Allan Poe had a short and difficult life. Toward its end, he was consumed by alcoholism and hallucinations. But during all those years, he was a prolific writer of short stories and poems, their themes usually exploring the darker aspects of the human psyche. His work wasn't truly recognized until after his death and now, over 150 years later, his short stories are still in print worldwide. Many of his popular tales - like The Telltale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado - are required reading in high school English courses. Students soon come to understand why Edgar Allan Poe has earned the title 'master of the American short story'.

The twenty-three writers who contributed to Poe's Lighthouse were asked to 'take a little-known, unfinished story fragment which Poe wrote near the end of his life and turn it into a complete story - in any way they wished. The only rule was that they use Poe's language, his images, his ideas - that they truly work together with the master'. Each of the authors rose to the challenge, and as a whole they have produced imaginative and engrossing collaborations. Some of the most outstanding tales are: The Riches There That Lie by Carole Nelson Douglas, where her popular feline narrator Louie finds adventure in a desolate lighthouse, and The Tragic Narrative of Arthur Bedford Addison by veteran pulp writer William F. Nolan, who puts a decidedly SF spin on proceedings. The most memorable (a truly poignant story) is Fisherman's Delight, by Gary Braunbeck, in which a brain-damaged teenager begins exhibiting a startling coping mechanism, to the eventual delight of his overprotective parents.

A host of other well-known authors contribute, including Kage Baker, Earl Hamner, George Clayton Jackson, John Shirley, Scott Nicholson, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. If you're a fan of Poe, or of any of his collaborators (some of whose work makes regular appearances at Cemetery Dance Publications), then Poe's Lighthouse is well worth your time.

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