Poe and the pleasures of the margins

Not literal text margins; I mean the margins of the true-crime genre, the fictional "re-imaginings" or scripted "homages" that sometimes get at the "true" part of true crime better than reported accounts can. That's where Edgar Allan Poe lives in the true-crime cultural category: Poe, born on this date in 1809, wrote an oft-adapted story that purported to solve a notorious New York City murder (unless it didn't do that at all). In his other, even more famous tales -- "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Cask of Amontillado" -- Poe talked about the same preoccupations that compel us in non-fiction crime stories: flamboyant slayings, unbearable guilt.

And then there's the fact that he might have been murdered. And the ongoing saga of the Poe Toaster. And, mostly, that it all happened so long ago and with such whiffy "documentation" that there's a lot we can't ever know...which is part of the appeal.

I don't have a ton of Poe materials in stock just now, just the two books linked above -- but the lurid and afflicted story of Poe's own life, and the fossil record of a bygone city you end up ensorcelled by when you Google around about him or Mary Rogers, is a wonderful "wow, really?" wikihole to tumble down in the bleak midwinter. If you find any books or cases down there you need help researching, let me know.

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