Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beyond Dante and Poe: Pearl on DIckens

During a local literary tour, I was wandering around the gift shop at the Longfellow House in Cambridge when I finally bought Matthew Pearl’s “The Dante Club.” I adored this book. The combination of literature, creepiness, history and soap opera grabbed me. (Was Oliver Wendell Holmes really so cruel to his father?) The book’s gruesome, Inferno-inspired murders were committed in familiar spots -- Harbor Islands, the frozen Charles and the tunnels under Harvard Square.

I love Baltimore too but Pearl’s next book, “The Poe Shadow,” didn’t do the same for me. I enjoyed it but found it didn’t have the smoothness of the Dante book. I found it odd and a bit confusing.

Now, the writer has returned to Boston and his subject is, unlike the others, an author I’ve actually read a bit of –Dickens. The Globe thinks it should have been edited more closely. Read some more flattering reviews on Pearl’s website. He’ll be at the Brookline Booksmith to read and sign next week.

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