Book Review: Solmaz Sharif, “From Reading Guantanamo” and Edgar Allan Poe, “Tell Tale Heart”

Solmaz Sharif, in “From Reading Guantanamo,” in Paper bag  Number One Summer 2010, writes in a style that is reflective of the theory “reader-response.”    It is as if the writer is beside himself, maybe a torture case, he wishes for a part of his words, to leave a blank and elicit them from me as the reader or another.  Perhaps to elicit his words from a stranger, perhaps from a lover, perhaps anyone.  Perhaps it is the day following torture.  He speaks in partial sentences, in every line there is a blank and your ability to fill that void will bring you closer to him, perhaps you know or knew and can feel for him this tragedy or this closeness.  Perhaps, he has reached a juncture that is his end, and all his blanks will be filled by you or others. 

Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Tell -Tale Heart,” in a close reading could be compared to other texts of that period within a structuralist lens that  illustrates the hearing of sounds or voices or the “over acuteness of the senses,” or  generally texts that look at ideas around madness (Poe 319).  “The evil eye” could also be looked at as if a common cultural phenomenon which could be searched in literature. The evil eye could be a downcast eye that presents itself as a motive when crossed with madness.  The acute senses were described as hearing “all things in heaven….all things in hell” (Poe 319). From such texts one may arrive at theories about social constructs born in literature that may exist in many works.  For example, there may within madness always exist a downcast eye.  Perhaps, there is the second suggestion to remove the downcast eye.  In Poe’s work, the mad man hears with his acute hearing the heart still beating, the beating heart that reveals him to the police, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” after this elaborate scheme plays out and the madman has removed the evil eye. 

Works Cited:

Poe, Edgar Allan, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Barnes and Noble, 2011, pp 319-324

Sharif, Solmaz. “From Reading Guantanamo,” Paper Bag Number One, Summer 2010

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