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GRIM LEGION Paperback – September 23, 2006
The Amazon Book Review
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A short while ago, a ripping yarn called Grim Legion: Edgar Allan Poe at West Point came across my desk. Published by Bewildering Press, a relatively new firm that specializes in speculative writing, Grim Legion recounts the rousing adventures of the future author of The Fall of the House of Usher shortly before he was expelled from the United States Military Academy in 1831. A bit of a screw-up, though not yet the morbid, self-destructive alcoholic he would later become, Poe has stumbled upon a monstrous plot by a shadowy organization called the Helvetian Society ... -- New York Times Book Review, Sunday, April 8, 2007, by Joe Queenan
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As a longtime aficionado of Symbolist poetry (particularly Baudelaire and Rimbaud), Dylan lyrics, and things Poeian, I was most impressed with Alcott's ability to create such a rich picture of the emotional life of Edgar and his brother, their dipsomaniacal and substance-fueled vulnerabilities/troubles, and the social setting which motivated, imprisoned, and eventually doomed them.
As a therapist (clinical social worker) who has worked with many artists struggling with mood and addiction troubles, I also found the author's treatment surprisingly kind and well-balanced--a remarkable feat! Add to that, the flavorful vernacular and bawdy (almost burlesque) womanizing + youthful misadventures of the brothers Poe: truly memorable writing that's stuck in my mind for days on end now.
In short, GRIM LEGION is a rear window into the early mind and soul of the immortal Edgar, and a chance to hang with the Master of the Macabre without placing oneself in the least bit of physical danger. As for the psychic and emotional after-effects, I make no guarantees....
Let's hope he writes another.