I've always had a liking for Edgar Allan Poe, with his tales of horror, mystery and suspense, done in the atmospheric prose of a master writer. Since I live close enough, I've even made some trips to his gravesite, a place that is always surrounded by a sense of sadness.
Poe was a tormented genius who died young, under mysterious circumstances, and at the time of his death he wasn't deservingly popular. Certainly his work was not cute romances for the masses -- he explored the darkness of the human heart, love, satire, and the earliest whodunnit stories. And "The Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe" brings together all of his poetry and writings in one book.
Poe's fiction writings include short stories and novellas, which tend to be rather weird -- a treasure-hunt and a golden insect, a ship caught in a whirlpool, a hypnotized man talks about the universe, and stories of despair, madness, and occasionally beauty. There is also his trilogy of Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin stories, which were the first to feature a brilliant detective solving an impossible crime.
Most people know about "The Raven" (which even has the Baltimore Ravens named after it) but Poe actually wrote a lot of poetry, most of which readers never heard of. Sometimes dark, or whimsical, or even both. "By a route obscure and lonely/Haunted by ill angels only/Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT/On a black throne reigns upright..."
And, of course, the horror. This is what Poe is best known for, including such well-known stories as "The Fall Of The House Of Usher." But there are also lesser-known gems -- tales of a plague invading a party, being buried alive, a portrait that siphoned the life out of its subject, and a nightly visit to an Italian crypt leading to madness.
Don't read "The Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe" all at once. It's too intense, too dark, too haunting. It's better to soak the book in in a little at a time, so that you can get a better feel for the different kinds of writing that Poe did, and how he excelled at pretty much everything he put down on paper. Most writers -- no matter how great they are -- can't boast of that much.
Poe's writing is what makes even his least story or poem come alive -- he brought a gothic, misty vibrancy to his stories, and could make his quiet dialogue seem utterly chilling (" "I have no name in the regions which I inhabit. I was mortal, but am fiend..."). It's not hard to see why he was an influence on authors such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle and Franz Kafka.
This particular edition is an excellent one, especially if you're looking for an inexpensive collector's item or for a gift for a Poe fan. Very smooth and elegant-looking, although the print is a wee bit small for my taste.
"The Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe" is a must-have for anyone with an appreciation for great literature and beautiful, dark writing.