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The Tell-Tale Art
preview of book The Tell-Tale Art
text of book The Tell-Tale Art

The Tell-Tale Art

Publisher: McFarland
Publication Date: 2012
Category: General
Grades: Recommended
Number of Pages: 209
Appropriate for: Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers
Choice rating: 
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About this title

Greed and guilt, near-indecipherable codes, murder plots born of madness--these motifs drive the best modern mysteries, but they are rooted in the early nineteenth century and the carefully constructed fiction of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe's methods of storytelling and suspense remain relevant, reappearing in detective novels and on screens large and small. This work examines a wide selection of today's mystery and thriller novels, films, television programs, and video games to explore Poe's ongoing influence on popular entertainment. Authors such as Michael Connelly, Stieg Larsson and Dennis Lehane, television shows like The Closer and Dexter, and movies from Laura and Vertigo to Shutter Island and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo all receive attention. The popularity of Poe's narratives in these contemporary guises is testimony to his visionary genius.

About author
Christine A Jackson
Christine A. Jackson is a professor of humanities at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she teaches critical and creative writing and literature. She is also a member of the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and sits on the planning committee for SleuthFest, a mystery writers' conference.


Jackson, Christine A. The tell-tale art: Poe in modern popular culture. McFarland, 2012. 202p bibl index afp ISBN 078646318x pbk; ISBN 9780786463183 pbk. Reviewed in 2012may CHOICE.

In this eclectic study, Jackson (critical writing and literature, Nova Southeastern Univ.) attempts to answer a seemingly simple question: why do people continue to read Poe? Her broad critical response suggests that the answer is both unpredictable and complex. Acknowledging Poe's well-documented literary influences, Jackson seeks to trace Poe-like narratives, motifs, and patterns of imagery in a wide variety of other genres: popular fiction, television drama, contemporary film, and video games. Jackson's strongest and most compelling analysis focuses on Poe's narratives of detection ("The Murders in Rue Morgue") and on his often obsessive focus on questions of identity ("William Wilson"). Her comments regarding the use of setting, especially the gothic and exotic use of New Orleans, and her analysis of Poe's influence on reality television are less convincing. Nevertheless, Jackson draws engaging lines of influence and intersection between Poe's canon and such diverse work as David Fincher's cult film Fight Club (1999), Robert Ludlum's formulaic fictions, and crime-scene television series.

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. -- M. J. McDonough, Monroe Community College

Copyright 2012 American Library Association.


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