Really! Check out the comments for the last post. Now, I realize it might be his publicist or something, but I'm going with it being the real deal. He calls me a "thoughtful reader"!!! That's crazy! I can't believe a New York Times best-selling author read my blog post. I'm looking at my copy of The Dante Club and it has a quote from Dan Brown on the cover! Dan Brown people! Pearl doesn't need my little blog post. It's a great quote, "Matthew Pearl is the new shining star of literary fiction...with an immense gift for intricate plots." I mentioned The Dante Club in the last post, but probably didn't make it sound too wonderful since I just said I really liked it, but then mentioned the gross part.
It's about, well, the Dante Club - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and J.T. Fields. Longfellow translated Dante's Divine Comedy (and Pearl edited the Modern Library edition of that translation). Murders begin occurring in Boston based on the Inferno, and the Dante Club has to solve the case. Again, you get a great mystery, historical fiction, and Dante all rolled into one. It's great!
I picked this book up originally because of the title. I read the Divine Comedy in college, and I wanted to see if it had anything to do with that Dante. You see fan fiction of Jane Austen's works all the time, but you don't usually see that sort of thing for Dante. Most people hated that part of Civ, even some of my fellow English majors, but I loved it. I've always been fascinated by Catholicism, even though I'm Baptist and the two don't usually mix. A part of me really likes the idea of purgatory and the levels of Hell. It's more logical than the way we Baptists think of things, but I actually think that's a point in our favor. No human would design a system where all sins are treated equally. But I digress. This book was interesting because it was a murder mystery, but it was high brow and literary and had an entertaining story. In a lot of mysteries, you don't really care about the characters. You care only about the plot. Pearl's stories give you both.
As a side benefit, the book made me enjoy my trip to Boston last year more. Pearl also does a good job of making you feel like you're physically there with the characters, so I felt like I recognized some of the city. That didn't keep me from getting lost a few times though. When you're in Boston, it's fun to pretend you're back in this time period. I was amazed at how easy it was to walk around Boston. Cars really were secondary, and I felt completely safe even though I was traveling alone.
Anyway, there's a review of The Dante Club for you. I will have to go buy The Poe Shadow now because Matthew Pearl told me to read it! And I don't think when an author tells you to read his book he means to check it out from the library. I will have to limit myself to only buying this book - I swore I would stop my obsessive book-buying habit until the end of the year. It's hard though. While I love the library, I feel bad not buying the books and supporting the authors. I'm trying to mainly pick up books that I wouldn't usually buy, or that I might buy at a library book sale but not at full price. Anyway, go check out Pearl's books! You won't regret it. Just don't read this one in the vicinity to bugs.