Caveat emptor: The softcover reprint I received, which photographs the original pages, did not include the last, longest, and probably finest story from Karloff's collection: "The Beckoning Fair One," by Oliver Onions. I immediately returned the book to Amazon, which to its credit promptly refunded me the purchase price (though not the cost of UPS return). I then went to ABE and bought an original 1940s copy of the same book.
This little Dover edition is cheap and fits easily into any bag, which makes it good bus stop reading. There is, however, a disadvantage to this portable Poe; namely, it's not all there. The collection excludes the story for which Poe is credited for having begun the detective genre itself: "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" introduces the characters of Dupin and our narrator, and prepares the scene for the detective figure to fill the gap of reasoning that the overly-methodical Parisian police have left. It sets the tone for the increased emphasis on analysis in "Marie Rogêt" and the humorous rivalry between police and detective in "The Purloined Letter." That being said, the other stories fit well together; "The Oblong Box" has one foot in the detective genre and the other in that species of psychological drama that we see in "William Wilson." Wilson and his doppelganger compliment the double corpse question in "Marie Rogêt," and the parallel worlds and coincidences, which make the mystery of Marie Rogêt more fascinating, lend an uncanny quality to "MS Found in a Bottle," with the discovery of Mercator's map. If these stories show us anything about Poe, it is his ability to bring a story to a logical conclusion that still leaves an eerie taste in the reader's mouth.
These two fantastic stories of the "3rd realm" are just the stories to tell at a campfire on a lonely, dismal, lugubrious night. But wait, they have more of a layered meaning than just that: these works convey true aspects of human nature that will leave you pondering on the notion of the 3rd realm. Most notable of the two is the Rod Serling penned "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street." Monsters Due is a drama about a typical American neighborhood don't is confronted by a night of abrupt, estranged events. These events are being advertently manipulated by aliens that are watching the human race frenzy around on Maple Street searching for a solution to the problem (i.e., car starts mysteriously, lights go out, lawnmowers are working devoid of human assistance, among other inexplicable events). The humans all use one another as scapegoats, consequently, the aliens have easily accomplished their task: proving that mankind is quick to find the most accessible solution to a problem without regards to exploring all avenues. Basically, read for meaning, read for entertaining, this book does exactly what it proposes: terrify.
I checked out this book from the library this summer trying to find an easy version of Poe. This version is very simple. There are few words that need explanation for struggling readers. I liked it so much that I decided to buy 20 copies for use in my classroom. October will be great!
Edgar allen poe is one of the greatest short story writers I have ever had the pleasure to read. His stories are varied and extremely intelligent. And at the cheap price this collection of stories are a must buy. I give it an extra star just for the price.