Friday, October 07, 2016

Ten gothic gems of historical fiction

Adrian Van Young's first book of fiction, The Man Who Noticed Everything, won Black Lawrence Press' 2011 St. Lawrence Book Award. His gothic historical novel Shadows in Summerland was published earlier this year. One title on the author's top ten list of gothic gems of historical fiction, as shared at Electric Literature:
The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard (2007)

Much like Carey’s Jack Maggs and Carter’s “The Lady of the House of Love,” Bayard’s novel The Pale Blue Eye pays tribute to another popular literary figure, but this time in his own life and times: Edgar Allan Poe. Set amidst the depredated austerity of West Point in the 1830’s, where Poe saw a short-lived career as cadet, Bayard’s novel showcases the relationship between Poe and New York City constable Gus Landor as they seek to decipher the riddle of another young cadet’s murder; the boy in question has been found hanged and, in a gruesome turn reminiscent of Poe, had his heart carved from his chest. Vacillating between Landor’s hardboiled-Victorian POV — he’s the Continental Op by way of the Brontes — and Poe’s own grandiloquent epistolary output, The Pale Blue Eye accomplishes the tricky business of seeming like a lost classic of the macabre while also interrogating the myth that has accrued around one of America’s most cherished literary personalities. The Gothic trappings liberate, allowing Bayard to navigate the past with one eye — “a pale blue eye, with a film over it” “[resembling] that of a vulture” — forever on the present moment.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Pale Blue Eye is among Matthew Pearl's ten best books inspired by Edgar Allan Poe.

The Page 69 Test: The Pale Blue Eye.

--Marshal Zeringue