John May, Author . Algonquin $25.95 (323p) ISBN 978-1-56512-427-1

A licentious interlude in the life of Edgar Allan Poe provides an intriguing if somewhat insubstantial premise for May's frothy historical novel. In late 1844, Poe is 36 years old, at the height of his literary powers, an experienced magazine editor and reviewer in New York City well-known for his poetry and stories. He is also chronically broke, the caretaker of his young tubercular wife, Sissy, and her mother, Muddy, and a binge drinker (a habit that will kill him by the time he is 40). May's story opens in the teeming publishing and maritime district of Lower Broadway, where Poe (called Eddy), has resigned as assistant to Nathaniel Parker Willis at the prestigious New-York Mirror to start his own review, the Broadway Journal. Poe's star rises with the publication of "The Raven," and he is suddenly much sought after for his eerie reading of the poem. At the Waverly Place salon of Anne Lynch, he meets a diminutive, flirtatious poetess of the hour, Mrs. Fanny Osgood. A quasi love affair as unconvincing as it is undocumented ensues. To generate romance, May takes dubious liberties in reading between the lines of Poe's and Osgood's poetry. Skirt the insipid dialogue for the glimpses of colorful pre–Civil War New York and its personages, such as Willis, chronicler of society's Upper Tenth, and his servant, freed slave and autobiographer Harriet Jacobs. Agent, Christy Fletcher. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/12/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 321 pages - 978-0-452-28601-6
Ebook - 323 pages - 978-1-56512-814-9
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