Jack Alcott, Grim Legion
reviewed by Stefan Brenner
Author: Jack Alcott
Bewildering Press, 2006
Trade paperback: $12.95 US
I confess that, initially, I was somewhat put off by the rough-and-ready style; then, suddenly, the penny dropped. I realised that Alcott’s unforgiving language had been deliberately designed to mirror the grim reality of Poe’s life in an American military academy; an institution where he, virtually alone among his peers, was not the son of wealthy upper-class parents who could pull strings to make life easy.
Alcott shows how, without such privileges, Poe’s situation at West Point spirals ever downwards in a drunken whirlpool of alcohol, opium, conspiracy and debauchery. Hounded by a secret society within the ‘Point’ and let down by his superiors, Poe learns to rely on his wits, the help of his only surviving blood relative, and his inner desire to go on living, no matter what.
When, having lost his brother, his sweetheart and his friends, he leaves, never to return, we are able to see how these experiences will come to be translated into the grim tales of horror and despair we all know. Read this story and acquire a highly personalised window into Poe’s world.
Copyright © 2007 by Stefan Brenner