Customer Reviews


17 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (8)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Biography for Getting Into Poe
Like Poe himself, Peter Ackroyd's Poe is of a different time. I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother had a library that she had amassed during her life. Leather bound first editions of some amazing authors, and included in that collection were slim volumes that were biographies of writers. Ackroyd's Brief Lives series, of which Poe is one, harkens back to this...
Published on February 3, 2009 by Jym Cherry

versus
37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars POE: A Life Cut Short = A Book Cut Short!!!
I love Poe. I love reading his writings and reading writings about him. Mr. Ackroyd's take on the Divine Edgar seems to have been written whilst on the run. (Or more likely to jump-the-gun and take some advantage of the fact that 2009 marks the 200th year of Poe's birth.) Anyway: this is NOT a book, it is an extended essay. It covers no new ground, offers no insight...
Published on April 29, 2008 by Richard Masloski


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars POE: A Life Cut Short = A Book Cut Short!!!, April 29, 2008
By 
Richard Masloski (New Windsor, New York USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Poe: A Life Cut Short (Hardcover)
I love Poe. I love reading his writings and reading writings about him. Mr. Ackroyd's take on the Divine Edgar seems to have been written whilst on the run. (Or more likely to jump-the-gun and take some advantage of the fact that 2009 marks the 200th year of Poe's birth.) Anyway: this is NOT a book, it is an extended essay. It covers no new ground, offers no insight of any deep note into Poe's writings and even manages to get the color of Catterina (Poe's cat) wrong in the space of twenty pages. The book itself is only 160 pages long. Everything in this "book" can be found by browsing some of the better Poe websites out there in cyberspace. Instead of a thoughtful, leisured stroll-on-foot through the weird and haunting landscape of Poe's life, Ackroyd packs his readers in a speedster and puts his foot to the pedal and races us through it all as if he had a train to catch...or perhaps a paycheck to cash. Either way, Poe deserves much better and, hopefully, someone somewhere will offer us a rich and rewarding take on Poe as his birthday draws near.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poe: A Life Cut Short is a brief biography of the Raven from Baltimore, July 22, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) (Hardcover)
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) pondered much as he lived out his short dark and dreary life. Poe first saw light in Boston the son of an impecunious actor father and actress mother. His father disappeared; the mother died while Poe was young. He was adopted by John and Fanny Allan from Richmond, Va. who raised the lad. Poe spent some years in England being given an excellent education for his time and place.
Poe had a disastrous relationship with his father; was expelled from West Point and starved in such cities as Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia and Baltimore. He eked out a living selling short story classics such as "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (the first detective story of note);
"William Wilson": "The Imp in the Bottle"; "The Fall of the House of Usher"; "The Tell-Tale Heart" and other masterpieces of the genre. He also wrote classic poems as "The Bells"; "The Raven" and "Ligea".
Poe married Virginia Clemm his 13 year old cousin who died in his arms. He had affairs with many women who were ill and frail. He often courted rich and married women. Poe was a nonbeliever in God; was a drunkard and never held a steady job for very long. He did edit several literary magazines and newspapers. Some people got along with him while several of his associates found him weird, melancholic and morose. He died in Baltimore in 1849 under mysterious circumstances.
Peter Ackroyd, the prolific London biographer, of such figures as Charles Dickens, William Shakeseare and others has done a superficial job in delineating the main events in Poe's life. The book can be read in a few hours containing the barebones account of the tragic poet's lugubriously unhappy life. There is little literary analysis of Poe's books. The work does contain fine photos of Poe and his circle.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Biography for Getting Into Poe, February 3, 2009
This review is from: Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) (Hardcover)
Like Poe himself, Peter Ackroyd's Poe is of a different time. I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother had a library that she had amassed during her life. Leather bound first editions of some amazing authors, and included in that collection were slim volumes that were biographies of writers. Ackroyd's Brief Lives series, of which Poe is one, harkens back to this tradition, in Poe's case, remarkably well.

Poe is a short book, it does cover the major events of his life in some detail, but not in great depth but I don't think that is its goal. It also doesn't delve deeply into Poe's work and only touches lightly on Poe's major works such as the Raven and The Fall of the House of Usher, but it doesn't have the space to get into the experiences in Poe's life that created these stories or the circumstances that may have influenced their creation. Indeed, there are other biographies that dig into those territories. This Poe is for someone just discovering Poe and wants some basic information on his life, or for someone who wants to be conversant in Poe, or someone who wants a quick refresher course on Poe. For those people this nice little volume is the one to have.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, Brief, and Brilliant, February 27, 2009
By 
S. Berner (Cocoa, Fl USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) (Hardcover)
A previous reviewer complains that this "is not a book, but an essay." First: there is nothing that prevents a "book" from also being an "essay". Second: What did he expect from an entry in a series called "Ackroyd's Brief Lives", EXCEPT a BRIEF life?
Of course the book is not as detailed as some 4-5-600 page doorstop might be; And there are those who might well wish to read such. But for those of us who just want a brilliantly written, stunning, moving, and deeply insightful overview of a tragic man's life, I suppose this will just have to do.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ackroyd, POE, September 1, 2009
This review is from: Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) (Hardcover)
Dianne Hunter's Review
Poe lived his short, unhappy life in financial poverty while desperately trying to be recognized as a superior person and literary artist. His attempts to secure financial support and maternal love failed as Poe did himself in with arrogance, restlessness, and alcohol. This brief biography fills out Poe's chronology with quotations from letters written by Poe's 19th-century associates. Ackroyd concludes that Poe was like a cuttlefish drowned in its own ink, that he posed as Byron, and that Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarme, Baudelaire, Tennyson, Dostoevksy, and Conrad are the true family of the otherwise orphaned Poe.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dive Into An Exploration Of Poe's Life, February 9, 2010
This review is from: Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) (Hardcover)
Edgar Allan poe is one of the greatest poets and short story writers in American history. And now thanks to this brilliant work, Peter Ackroyd tells the story of Poe's life like a novel. Find out all the mysterious things about Poe's life and his death.

It begins with Poe's strange death in the city of Baltimore. Then Ackroyd takes you through all the aspects of Poe's interesting life from his early childhood to teen years and then to his days in West Point.

Ackroyd is a truely skilled writer who carefully takes a person's life and fits it into a brilliant peice of literature. Recommended to all Poe fans.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives)., July 2, 2009
By 
Eric Williams (South-Eastern Pennsylvania) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) (Hardcover)
Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives). Author: Peter Ackroyd. 224 pages. 2009.

My wife picked this book up on a recent library trip intending to read it as part of her personal on-going celebration of the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth. The book is slim and pocket sized so I believed that I could take it off her stack, read it, and return it in short order. I was correct in that assumption, partly due to the size and partly due to the writing.

This book begins with the final week of Poe's life and onto his death and burial. Using this device to set the stage the book returns to Poe's origin. The book follows Poe's life chronologically through its' many twists and turns. It is the story of a life, not for the meek. His was a life of tragedy and constant hammer blows of misfortune. Poe's life is more interesting in fat than it is in legend because of its constant revision. Poe routinely spoke and wrote of his life in a calculating manner revising its details, altering the context and meaning to suit his audience. In truth it seems that his life was a story being written and re-written as he lived it. It was filled by a narrator who like in his stories interacts with the reader and the characters in equal amounts. It was filled with darkness, doomed women and relationships, death around every corner, brief periods of light and others of a more constant darkness edging always towards the abyss.

Poe was a gifted talent, a practitioner who worked hard at his craft. His is often credited with being the father of the detective story, science fiction and the greatest American literary talent. This book delves but slightly into Poe's works and his legacy. The focus is squarely upon the man in the black suit with penetrating grey eyes. Instead of looking at his work we look at the man. By studying the man do we see into his work or is his work merely a creation of his intellect rather than his experience? I believe that Poe's greatest work was his life itself, it reads like one of his poetic tales grafted on to his literary critiques.

If the story of the man apart from his creations is enough ... than this book is a very good easily digestible tome. It is also a very good brief introduction or a gateway into all that is Poe allowing for a deeper study elsewhere. As the subtitle states this is a life in brief.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars `Like his narratives and fables, Poe's own life story ends abruptly and inconclusively; ...', May 14, 2009
This review is from: Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) (Hardcover)
It is difficult to look at Edgar Allan Poe's 40 years of life and do anything other than appreciate it. His prose and poetry speaks for itself and quickly elevates him to a status that few others could hope to equal. His life has a blend of verifiable fact, and largely speculative interpretation of why he acted in particular times.

I first came across the writing of Edgar Allan Poe some 40 years ago, and continue to be caught up in the imagery of his fictional worlds. When I turned to trying to make sense of the life that created these worlds, I found that I could not do so in any logical way and few books about Poe have given me any real insight. Perhaps it is enough to observe that he is a fascinating man.

I read this book to try to obtain a different perspective of Poe's life. I found that this book did not really add anything new to what I needed to know about Poe. However, for someone who is new to Edgar Allan Poe and who is making their own first journey into the life behind the works, this book way well provide a useful starting point. The detail (such as it is) will require further exploration.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very informative, January 21, 2010
This review is from: Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) (Hardcover)
While I've loved Poe's writings I've really never read anything about his life until this book. While other reviewers have said this information could plainly be found elsewhere, I enjoyed the layout and pace of this short read. It gives you the highlights of Poe's life in detail and really brings forth a lot of information on the man's true personality. He could apparently be quite nice at times, and other times be rather brutal. His only writing to truly make an impression on the world during his lifetime was "The Raven", though now he is considered the father of the modern detective story as well as a huge influence on other horror writers even today.

There are some parts of the book that seem to drag, and if you are looking for exhaustive background on where Poe got the ideas for his stories you won't find it here. Most of his writing is mentioned in passing really, as the main focus of the book is his life. Many of his major short stories like "Tell-tale Heart" and "Fall of the House of Usher" are never even mentioned. Still, if you are interested in a brief but thorough look at the life of this writer, this is a great book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "No man is safe who drinks before breakfast.", May 9, 2009
This review is from: Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) (Hardcover)
This is a somewhat scholarly, somewhat anecdotal long essay on Edgar Allan Poe. The sub-title "A Life Cut Short," seems to present this as a sad homage to the great American poet/short story writer, but the substance of the book is more of a chronological rundown of Poe's life, without any real analysis of his works.
At times it is a boring read, as Ackroyd accounts for Poe's whereabouts between Boston, Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, as he travelled around impoverished, looking for work and literary respect, editing and writing for various journals and papers. Or it is Poe's obsessions and transgressions with various women, money lenders and writers.
As a vision of a tortured soul, forever clouded by his unfortunate loses(mother, father, wife and other abandonments), Ackroyd hammers home the obvious: that the angst and torment which permiates his works was the stuff of his crazy life. Poe remains very mysterious, and Ackroyd deftly pieces together his activities, inferring here and there his motives and influences, which gives the book a scholarly feel. His bibliography features 18 different biographies and Poe related works.
What I missed was Poe's work. Credited with creating horror fictions and the detective story, as well as metaphysical and psychological tales, Poe remains a giant and I wanted more of an understanding of his impact than on his haggard and sad activities.
This is a quick read, occasionally dull, but buoyed by a fascinating and significant American character.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives)
Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) by Peter Ackroyd (Hardcover - January 20, 2009)
$22.95 $16.83
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.