Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Whatever Happened to. . .

. . . Ambrose Bierce? The eccentric writer and columnist, a Civil War veteran, produced some of the most oddly morbid short stories on record (“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” “A Horseman in the Sky,” “The Man and the Snake,” “The Eyes of the Panther,” etc.). Many of his tales are set during the great conflict, lending a curious reprieve from the sheer, brute militarism of typical Civil War literature.

“Bitter Bierce,” as he came to be known, went to Mexico in 1913 and vanished. He is believed to have served for a time on the staff of revolutionary leader Pancho Villa. Friends in the States stopped receiving letters from him in 1914, so it is supposed . . . but not ascertained . . . that he died that year, in his early 70s. Thus it was that one of the strangest masters of the grotesque bequeathed the ultimate mystery to his readers to solve.


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