Read Can Such Things Be? by Ambrose Bierce, Biography & Autobiography by Ambrose Bierce Online


Ambrose Bierce never owned a horse, a carriage, or a car; he was a renter who never owned his own home. He was a man on the move, a man who traveled light: and in the end he rode, with all of his possessions, on a rented horse into the Mexican desert to join Pancho Villa -- never to return.Can Such Things Be?Once William Randolph Hearst -- Bierce's employer, who was braggiAmbrose Bierce never owned a horse, a carriage, or a car; he was a renter who never owned his own home. He was a man on the move, a man who traveled light: and in the end he rode, with all of his possessions, on a rented horse into the Mexican desert to join Pancho Villa -- never to return.Can Such Things Be?Once William Randolph Hearst -- Bierce's employer, who was bragging about his own endless collections of statuary, art, books, tapestries, and, of course real estate like Hearst Castle -- once William Randolph Hearst asked Bierce what he collected. Bierce responded, smugly: "I collect words. And ideas. Like you, I also store them. But in the reservoir of my mind. I can take them out and display them at a moment's notice. Eminently portable, Mr. Hearst. And I don't find it necessary to show them all at the same time." Such things can be. (jacketless library hardcover)...

Title : Can Such Things Be? by Ambrose Bierce, Biography & Autobiography
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ISBN : 9781587158612
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 232 Pages
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Can Such Things Be? by Ambrose Bierce, Biography & Autobiography Reviews

  • J.G. Keely
    2019-01-14 21:23

    December 26th, 1913, Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce disappeared into the Mexican desert, never to be seen again, and so it was that, in appropriately mysterious manner, one of the premiere American horror authors passed on into the undying realm of night. Bierce was the preeminent innovator of supernatural stories between the death of Poe and the rise of Lovecraft--and to be quite honest, I'd place him head and shoulders above either of them.While those authors tended toward a dour, indulgent, overwrought style, Bierce preferred a lighter touch, built upon precise, carefully-constructed prose and driven by a deeply morbid wit, somewhere between Nietzsche and Alexander Pope. What may be most interesting about his tales is that, despite their simplicity, they often require quite a bit of thought from the reader: when you reach the end, you know something terribly unnatural has occurred, but piecing together precisely what happened requires a moment of reflection, where the discrete details of the story come together to imply something much more grandly dark than the apparently simple narrative would seem to contain.To me, the sheer mirthlessness of Poe and Lovecraft denies their stories a certain depth--they are not capturing the whole human experience, but concentrating obsessively on one particular part, as befits the natures of such odd, affected men--men who we imagine to be just as off-putting as the strange, damaged characters in their stories. Bierce's aberration if of a different sort: that of a deep cynic who turns to laugh at the world, at its every aspect, life and death, joy and horror. In missing this from their stories, other horror authors reject a large part of the palette with which horror and madness can be painted.Chambers dabbled effectively in this laughing tief, as well--but with more uneven results, as his horror career slowly transformed into a series of bland drawing-room romances. Dunsany also has a sense of wit, and of the humor of desperation, but none has so devotedly focused the breadth and depth of their talent on the intersection of the amusing and terrifying as Bierce.Some of the stories in this, the last of two such collections Bierce published, are similar, but there are also those inexplicable and masterful standouts which differ in both their approach and the effect they achieve from any other horror author. In the end, there is no mistaking Bierce's handiwork, it is in every line: in every carefully laid comma and semicolon, every aphoristic turn, touch of frontier Americana, vivid picture of awful war, and wryly bitter observation.

  • Oscar
    2018-12-29 22:19

    Lovecraft nos habla de Ambrose Bierce en ‘El horror sobrenatural en la litaratura’: ”Prácticamente, todos sus cuentos son de horror, y aunque muchos tratan sólo de horrores físicos y psicológicos, dentro del orden natural, hay un número considerable que incorpora lo malignamente sobrenatural. Es el gran creador de sombras.”Poco se puede decir de Ambrose Bierce que no se haya dicho ya. “Bitter” Bierce (el amargo Bierce), como lo bautizaron los ingleses, es uno de los mejores cuentitas de la literatura norteamericana, y por extensión mundial, a la altura de figuras como Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain o Jack London. Bierce es conocido por su sarcasmo caústico, su misantropía y su descarnado humor negro, pero también hay que tener en cuenta que revolucionó la manera de acercarse a las historias de terror.Algo a destacar de la obra fantástica de Bierce, es su capacidad para dotar de verosimilitud a lo que nos está narrando, aunque nunca lleguemos a saber si se basa en hechos reales o leyendas. Puede que te esté hablando de extraños fenómenos, como desapariciones o muertos que se levantan de sus tumbas, que te consta que no pueden suceder, pero siempre te queda una pequeña duda. Bierce no se plantea dar explicaciones racionales, simplemente te cuenta, con su particular estilo periodístico, cómo suceden las cosas.Historias como la fascinante ‘Un habitante de Carcosa’, nos hablan de la legendaria Carcosa, y servirían de inspiración tanto a Lovecraft como a su círculo más íntimo, evocando su atmósfera, donde la desolación y las civilizaciones ancestrales recuerdan a la mitología de Cthulhu.De entre los cuarenta y dos relatos incluidos en '¿Pueden suceder tales cosas?', se pueden destacar los siguientes, todos ellos obras maestras: ‘La muerte de Halpin Frayser’, ‘Suceso en el puente sobre el río Owl’, ‘Una carretera iluminada por la luna’, ‘El maestro de Moxon’, ‘Un vigilante junto al muerto’, ‘El hombre y la serpiente’, ‘El dedo corazón del pie derecho’, ‘El engendro maldito’, ‘Los ojos de la pantera’, ‘Soldadesca del pueblo’, ‘Algunas casas encantadas’ y ‘El clan de los parricidas’.En resumen, una obra imprescindible de un autor imprescindible.

  • Kevin
    2019-01-19 21:10

    Oh, Ambrose Bierce, you did have such a way with words. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories fantastical and ghostly in nature. My only complaint, if any, would be that if I left them alone for too long it would take me several minutes to get back into Bierce's writing style. I mean I know it was published before the turn of last century, I don't expect it to be modern and breezy ... it just takes a minute to shift those mental gears is all.Some of my favorite quotes from this collection:"Now that is my story, and I have told it in the interest of your trumpery science; but if on any evening hereafter you observe me wearing this damnable watch, and you have the thoughtfulness to ask me the hour, I shall beg leave to put you to the inconvenience of being knocked down."What an incredible way to tell someone to stop bothering you!He looked at me and made an attempt to smile, but his lower lip quivered and he seemed unable to close his mouth. His hands, also, were shaking, and he thrust them, clenched, into the pockets of his sack-coat. The courageous spirit was manifestly endeavoring to subdue the coward body. The effort was too great; he began to sway from side to side, as from vertigo, and before I could spring from my chair to support him his knees gave way and he pitched awkwardly forward and fell upon his face. I sprang to assist him to rise; but when John Bartine rises we shall all rise.I hope to be able to steal that line some time ... "When so-and-so rises we all shall rise."His health having been perfect during all that time, he had been unable to discern any validity in whatever may or might have been urged to lure him astray from his counter and it is related that once when he was summoned to the county seat as a witness in an important law case and did not attend, the lawyer who had the hardihood to move that he be “admonished” was solemnly informed that the Court regarded the proposal with “surprise.” Judicial surprise being an emotion that attorneys are not commonly ambitious to arouse, the motion was hastily withdrawn and an agreement with the other side effected as to what Mr. Deemer would have said if he had been there - the other side pushing its advantage to the extreme and making the supposititious testimony distinctly damaging to the interests of its proponents. The line about 'judicial surprise' actually had me laugh out loud.Last one:I remember - and tell it here because, singularly enough, I recollected it then - that once in looking carelessly out of an open window I momentarily mistook a small tree close at hand for one of a group of larger trees at a little distance away. It looked the same size as the others, but being more distinctly and sharply defined in mass and detail seemed out of harmony with them. It was a mere falsification of the law of aerial perspective, but it startled, almost terrified me. We so rely upon the orderly operation of familiar natural laws that any seeming suspension of them is noted as a menace to our safety, a warning of unthinkable calamity. You see why I love it?Okay fine so some of the stories tended to rest on the idea of "wouldn't it be weird if X?" where at the conclusion when X is revealed the story just kind of ends. I suppose at that point in the development of the tales of the supernatural that was a common enough way to do it, but I'm accustomed to a little more meat.Still! Free stories from a master wordsmith. Can't beat that.

  • Rodrigo Tello
    2019-01-19 18:26

    Los cuentos de "Bitter Bierce" o "Gringo Viejo", como me gusta llamarlo, son la combinación perfecta entre humor negro, amargura y horror gótico. Aplaudo esta reedición, yo ya lo tenía y en general todos los relatos valen la pena, y mucho. Por ejemplo:El Engendro Maldito: Un muy buen relato de terror sobrenatural en la línea de clásicos como "El Horla" de Maupassant y "Qué fue eso" de Fitz-James O'Brien. Excelente.Una noche de verano: humor negro e ironía con un final tragicómico.La alucinación de Staley Fleming y Un Naufragio Psicológico: En el primero, queda patente que los muertos tienen muchas formas de vengarse, sino lean las "Meditaciones" de Denneker. No olvidemos que Bierce era aficionado al espiritismo, tan de moda en su época, y a las "Meditaciones" recurre nuevamente en el segundo para explicar un extraño caso de ¿transmigración? ¿reencarnación? Imposible saberlo.La elocuencia de los fantasmas: relatos de fantasmas en la América profunda del siglo 18. Excelentes.Un diagnóstico de muerte: a veces los muertos vuelven para anunciarnos nuestra propia muerte aunque no nos conozcan.El funeral de John Mortonson: Un delirio total, pero así era Bierce.La ventana sellada: relato trágico, la historia de un ermitaño que pierde a su esposa de una de las maneras más brutales que creo haber conocido alguna vez. Brillante atmósfera y final descolocador.Un habitante de Carcosa: Una experiencia parapsicológica con un médium contada en un estilo periodístico, como "El Engendro Maldito". Relato clásico de Bierce y que forma parte de los Mitos de Cthulhu, y que fue usado por RW Chambers para su "Rey de Amarillo".

  • Katie
    2019-01-06 21:06

    I love gothic literature. while this was not technically gothic it had the same feel to it. The words, the descriptions, the content-all worked together to create really compelling stories and an extremely enjoyable reading experience.

  • K.J. Charles
    2019-01-05 22:12

    Ambrose Bierce is best known for disappearing never to be found, the Devil's Dictionary, and Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge iirc, amazing short story about a bloke being hanged. This is a collection of rather macabre short stories in that sort of vein. Redolent of the 19th century West, vivid scars of the Civil War. They're of varying quality, but very similar feel, and I suspect would have a lot more impact read single in a magazine. Lot of mysterious stories that stop abruptly and end with people looking at each other with wild surmise, lot of ghosts all doing roughly the same thing. An interesting period piece but not one I'm likely to return to, though anyone with a love of Americana or western weird might get more from it.

  • Brandon
    2019-01-02 16:25

    Despite his reputation as "bitter Bierce," many of the stories in this collection were extravagantly morose and melancholy. The most obvious writer to compare him to is Poe, although Bierce is no where near as horrifying as Poe. Many of these stories are only mildly scary. The emphasis is on psychological duress via devices like doubles, mirrors, ghosts, shadows, weird watches and such. Not every story is a gem, as Bierce's writing sometimes lacks the polish of Poe (it can be very garbled and strangely worded), but many of them are. What I particularly enjoyed was that so many of the stories veered from desperately trying horror to parody of horror, and it seems clear to me that Bierce was in on the joke. Almost all of these stories, while certainly melancholy and gloomy, are so overwrought and gimmicky that there is a certain dark humor and a lot of laugh out loud moments in Bierce's execution of his material. These grim but hilarious stories keep the collection from being a one trick pony. The other writers Bierce reminded me of were James (stylistically, Bierce can sometimes be very precise) and Crane (at least in some settings and diction). There were some duds, and some that seemed to harp on the same devices and tropes, but overall a good and worthwhile read.

  • Marsten
    2018-12-27 16:59

    Ya me lo he acabado y me ha gustado bastante!Como pasa con las recopilaciones de relatos hay de todo, pero en este caso en general son buenos. Con todo, para no cansarme me lo he ido leyendo a trozos hasta el día de hoy.La calidad literaria de Ambrose Bierce está fuera de toda duda y a pesar ser cuentos de finales del s. XIX son una gozada leerlos disfrutando de su genial estilo. Las historias, aunque a simple vista puedan parecer muy similares, tienen sus matices y elementos singulares que las hacen únicas.Las historias que más me han gustado són:- El secreto del barranco Macarger- Una noche de verano- La jarra de sirope-El hombre y la serpiente- Un naufragio psicológico- El dedo corazón del pie derecho- El funeral de John Mortonson- Circunstancias apropiadas- El engendro maldito- La ventana sellada- Un habitante en Carcosa- Y como curiosidad los últimos relatos de mini-historias monotemáticasEn resumen, un buen libro para "hacer un máster" de uno de los gandes escriteros del género!

  • Eric
    2019-01-07 15:20

    Ambrose Bierce was a journalist and a professional wit so it's sometimes difficult to reconcile his quips and his muckraking with the irrational and spiritual nature of horror, and especially his particular style of country horror. But he was a soldier in the civil war so he had seen his share of the American wilderness and of death and destruction. His dry personality is most evident when he describes ignorant yokel characters using highfalutin language. But there is still something inexplicably natural and essential in his prose that I love. He created scenes and atmospheres that were both natural and unnatural, or perhaps in a way proto-natural, evoking ancient places and forces that even Manifest Destiny shouldn't disturb. Bierce had the ability to channel the superstitious cowboy that must exist in all of us, expressing frontier wisdom through ghost stories. "Don't go near that gulch! Lemme tell you about some buckaroos who went near that gulch, they were eaten by a ghost."

  • Stephen
    2019-01-02 17:09

    Just started reading. I remember doing a report on him in school, and dug this out from my collection. Giving it a read. I also had his "Devil's Dictionary". Nice tales of horror and supernatural for the campfire or when the lights go out in a storm, and read by the candle. I finished this book last week

  • Melissa
    2019-01-02 16:09

    I think this would've been better to read rather than listen to via Audible. Some of the stories are excellent; others aren't.

  • Ebster Davis
    2018-12-27 14:23

    As is the case with most anthologies, this one is a mixed bag. Most of them are ghost stories or urban myth-type tales. I think it would be fun to adapt some of them for reading around a campfire the next time we go camping.I became interested in this series when I read The King in Yellow. I'm not sure if they were intended to be the same character or if Mr Lovecraft just made them so. He's mentioned even less in this book than he was in Chambers' book. What I find most interesting is the way he's depicted in the two different works: If The King In Yellow/Hastur/Hati is supposed to be some generic diety-that-other-people-worship (ie. people other than the reader) then the way he is depicted can say a lot about the way different people view the concept of God, religion, and spirituality. In "The King in Yellow", the diety is meant to be unfathomably scary because he transcends human experience. In "Can Such Things Be", he's actually the LEAST scary supernatural figure in the book! He's a personal diety: a figure of wisdom and guidance, and he condecends to help this lowly shepherd boy. Very interesting stuff!-The Death of Halpin Frayser: 3/5.This one is a bit creepy! But it's also the story is told in non-chronological segments, so it can be a bit confusing. Mr Frayser has had a pretty colorful life. Like he's one of those free-spirit, poet people but he's not particularly talented so people have kinda taken advantage of him in the past.The only person who really supported his interest growing up was his mom. And now he's finally kinda coming back to his neighborhood in this really creepy forest (view spoiler)[ and comes across his mom's zombie which kills him sounds super cheesy when I say it like that, I guess it kind of is but the whole point is that this mother and son pair were kind of soulmates. No one else in their world understood their shared interests and they could talk to each other in confidence without having to worry about what the other would think. and then when Halpin Frayser comes back and finds what happened to his mom, and all that kinship and personal attachment is gone. It's as violent internally as it ends up being externally...ripping him apart O.o(hide spoiler)]There's a whole bit with these detectives talking about how his mom got remarried and the marriage went downhill. (view spoiler)[ like, was stepdad visiting the mom's grave to to bring her back to life? did he make her a zombie?(hide spoiler)]No resolution to this one, we don't even see the detectives get their man, but it is very atmospheric and the slow unraveling (such as it is) works pretty well. -The Secret of Macarger's Gulch: 2/5. This one seemed like a pretty standard ghost story, guy stays in a haunted house overnight sort of thing. The haunting is manifested as a dream where he learns about the early life of the house's previous inhabitants.-One Summer Night: 2/5. (view spoiler)[ a "buried alive" story that's more traumatic for the grave robbers than it is for the guy who was actually buried alive.(hide spoiler)]-The Moonlit Road: 4/5. Another supernatural-mystery story told non-chronologically and from 3 different POV. Also involves family drama, amnesia, and a murder-mystery spanning 20 years. (view spoiler)[ It boggles me that the dad decided his wife was guilty even though he's not sure he actually saw anybody leave the house, but because she was HIDING from someone who was FRIGGIN BREAKING INTO HER HOUSE IN THE DARK!(hide spoiler)]-A Diagnosis of Death: 2/5. A guy named Hawver is admitting to his doctor friend that he thinks he's going to die because of an apparition he saw earlier that day, he doesn't get much sympathy (view spoiler)[ and dies anyway. I do think it was kinda cool how he got to prepare for it. He even was playing his own funeral march on the violin when he passed. spoiler)]-Moxon's Master: 2/5. This story is basically an excuse to muse on the possibility of sentient non-biological life (AKA artificial intelligence). I suppose it's a polarizing idea, but at this point it's been played over in stories so. many. times. If an automaton is truely sentient, why would it automatically be violent? And if they are why the heck don't they make these beings tiny so they can't hurt anybody? Comon guys! You're supposed to be scientists! -A Tough Tussle: 3/5."I repeat that Lieutenant Byring was a brave and intelligent man. But what would you have? Shall a man cope, single-handed, with so monstrous an alliance as that of night and solitude and silence and the dead -- while an incalculable host of his own ancestors shriek into the ear of his spirit their coward counsel, sing their doleful death-songs in his heart, and disarm his very blood of all its iron? The odds are too great --courage was not made for so rough use as that. "The most interesting aspect of this story is how Byring keeps trying to talk himself out of feeling fear, but you can't rationalize himself out of fear once you feel it. Byring says it himself; humans aren't programmed that way. -One of Twins: 2/5. This is one of those twin/dopplgager/vague telepathy type stories. A part of me thinks "Good for you Mr Bierce! Not every pair of twins has to be these totally creepy mirrors of each other."But the other part of me thinks that it was probably supposed to be creepy, and the author just wrote it kinda badly.-The Haunted Valley: Wow, racism, superstition and sexual harassment all in one story! I actually feel bad for Ah Wee.-A Jug of Sirup: Killer Intro! The rest is meh.-Staley Fleming's Hallucination: Death Omens a la "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" sans Sirius Black.-A Resumed Identity: A man comes watches the sunrise over a landscape and has an intense flashback where he remembers his past life (?) (view spoiler)[ and dies again(hide spoiler)]-A Baby Tramp: "Beware of the gaping gamin. The little fellow will grow up."-Victor Hugo (view spoiler)[ Well, apparently he will friggin NOT.(hide spoiler)]-The Night Doings at "Deadmans"(view spoiler)[Haunted Ponytail(hide spoiler)]-Beyond The WallWell that was stupid, but also incredibly tragic in a way I can appreciate. It really highlights the kind of love people wrote about and were inspired by in books I've read from 1700-1800. Like, idealizing a romance that is unattainable because you realize an actual attachment wouldn't be fulfilling: once you get what you want, you won't want it anymore. But this story kinda turns that whole scenario in its head because IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU MR DAMPIER! Friggin selfish scumbag. Couldn't do a nice thing for someone else if their life depended on it :POk maybe that was a little harsh, but really if this book weren't so intent on being all spooky and creepy, it could be really poignant and meaningful. We don't know what other people are going though, and we don't always know the difference our actions may make on someone who's suffering. -A Psychological ShipwreckI donno...this one was really confusing. A guy meets a girl on a boat, and they become friends and she's got a fiancee that he's friends with. And they read this book about soul mates or something and then she drowns, and he wakes up. I dunno...-The Middle Toe of the Right FootThe plot is pretty straightforward, but the way he tells the story is all wonky. These really immature guy talks about how he dumped this girl he was with because he found out she had a physical defect: an amputated middle toe. He explains that he thinks that an external (physical) defect in a woman is associated with an internal or moral defect of the person. He goes on to say that he heard that his former love had gotten married, so it sounds like everything turned out for her. Another guy in the group goes, "Yeah, but I heard her husband slit her throat." and the group just goes "Huh that's weird." Then they go picking on this guy who was listening to their conversation. Then one thing led to another and they end up going to have a Duel in the Dark (to the death...with knives...). But like, they never actually do any thing because when they get there one of them is already dead. (I think it was the guy who dumped his girlfriend, but I'm not sure). They notice a set of footprints leading away from the body: and that the prints lack a middle toe on the right foot.The story ends with the big reveal "It was Gertrude!" and afterward explains that Gertrude was the name of the girl who was missing a middle toe and was jilted by this guy and later killed by her husband. Say whut?Honestly, it doesn't bother me that he's a bit long winded in his descriptions: it's a short enough of a story to where it doesn't (or rather, shouldn't) upset the punchline ending. But the way he tells this story is convoluted to the point of being anticlimactic. If you get to the big reveal at the end ("It was Gertrude") and you have to ask "Who the heck is Gertrude." (because you've never once used that name before....) maybe you need to call your editor and re-organize your story a bit more. The whole way this story is told is weird like that. For example, when they first walk in the room where the body is...we don't know he's dead yet because the narrator goes into this big long explanation of how his body was positioned up against the wall, the orientation of each of his limbs, the curve of his shoulders, the shape of his mouth, and then his eyes...completing his monologue with the ominous "He was dead!" Well no shit, Sherlock!(I'm actually surprised he didn't wait to make this *shocking* proclamation until AFTER his painfully dull description of advanced rigor mortis....or maybe he could have monologued a whole funeral ceremony for the dead guy, and end with shoveling dirt in the guy's face and THEN have their big reveal: "He was dead")-John Mortonson's Funeral (view spoiler)[ Cat got locked in the coffin, freaked a bunch of mourners out when they opened the casket for one last goodbye.(hide spoiler)] The story itself is kind of humorous, though I'm not sure it's supposed to be or not. -The Realm of the UnrealThe guy in a car almost runs over this other guy, then gives him a ride even though he really doesn't like him. He tells us a story of when he met the guy the first time and he got hypnotized into thinking his girlfriend came to visit, when she was really back home...and he and the guy went walking and found what looked like a dead body. What freaks me out even more than the hypnotists practical jokes is the fact that he would just keep walking home after finding a dead body on the side of the road, and not tell the police or anything.-John Bartem's WatchThis guy's ancestor was assassinated by George Washington and co. for being a British loyalist. and the guy carried around his dead ancestors watch all the time and he's really anal about it. He freaks out when his friend asks him the time because he doesn't want to look at the watch before 11pm (even though technically every time except 11pm is "before" 11pm) because that's the time his ancestor was killed. His friend decides to do a little experiment with the guy's psychosis, but it backfires massively because the guy ends up dying. The friend believes that the guy may have possessed the same soul as his ancestor and that he'd been reliving the trauma of his ancestor's last hours, as he waited for his execution. Pretty freaky. -The Damned Thing(view spoiler)[ Invisible Mountain Lion eats a dude.(hide spoiler)]-Haita the Shepherd: 4/5. Color me impressed! I read this because its supposed to be the first featuring Hastur (aka "The King in Yellow") but he's presented as just a regular diety. Not trying to take over the world or anything. (I guess its kind of like religious extremists would do...)The ending paragraphs were really beautiful, I wasn't expecting it to be that metaphorical.(view spoiler)[ How long didst thou have her at any time before she fled?''Only a single instant,' answered Haita, blushing with shame at the confession. 'Each time I drove her away in one moment.''Unfortunate youth!' said the holy hermit, 'but for thine indiscretion thou mightst have had her for two.' (hide spoiler)]-An Inhabitant of CarcosaI saw even the stars in absence of darkness.This guy talks about his experience of dying and waking up in a land far away and trying to make it back home. It's pretty sad. At the end, we find out he's relaying all this through a medium/psychic, which is why all the descriptions of everything are all psychedelic and dreamlike. He has no memory of his actual death, only of being sick earlier and the journey through a psychedelic landscape.-The StrangerAn Arazona ghost story. Very much the kind of thing you'd like to hear around a campfire.

  • panpan
    2019-01-05 22:17

    The book is pretty dense, but not in the way you would expect since in Bierce's stories, every single word matter. To simplify it, you would read 2 pages, then on the 3rd page, you went "Oh snap!" as something wrong had happened. Therefore, despite its length, it is not an easy read at all, and you would definitely want to completely focus on the story. Personally, I don't think I could read more than a few stories per session at all.With all that being said, there are quite a few classic horror stories in here. It's not hard to see why Bierce is a big influence on later horror writers (ie. Lovecraft). In addition to that, there are quite some humors in here as well as stories that read as if it was a parody of horror stories in general. Definitely a must read! And definitely something I would come back to!My favourite stories out of the bunch are "The Death of Halpin Frayser", "The Secret of Macarger's Gulch", "The Moonlight Road", "A Diagnosis of Death", "Moxon's Master", "Staley Fleming's Hallucination", "A Psychological Shipwreck", "John Mortonson's Funeral", "The Damned Thing", "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" and "The Stranger"

  • Quirkyreader
    2019-01-15 20:59

    This was a good grouping of stories. May of the stories are in other editions. So caveat emptor.

  • Iker
    2018-12-23 21:13

    Bierce is one of the earliest true influences of weird fiction, and this book of stories lets you see why. Although the prose can turn somewhat purple at times, there are certain stories which embrace and explore the supernatural for all it's worth.For instance, The Damned Thing— which, along with Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan, appears to have been the basis for H.P. Lovecraft's famous novella The Dunwich Horror, deals in an exploration of the fantastic contrasted against the mundane in a chilling way.On the other end of things, there are certain stories like Haïta the Shepherd that illustrate Bierce's capabilities as an allegorist, which make for beautiful stories.

  • Tim
    2019-01-02 19:19

    A delightfully creepy collection of short stories, including what may have been HP Lovecraft's inspirations for the god Hastur and the ancient city of Carcosa. Some themes are a bit repetitive amongst the stories, but the florid prose makes up for it. A prime example: "The house itself is in tolerably good condition, though badly weather-stained and in dire need of attention from the glazier, the smaller male population of the region having attested in the manner of its kind its disapproval of dwelling without dwellers."

  • Jolie
    2019-01-12 16:01

    Sophisticated horror – heartfelt horror. Some stories are difficult to process while others hit square in the heart and the mind. The tales are told in such an intimate yet aloof but also serious and sometimes sad way, I could not help but think Bierce was inspired to write them based on actual events he came across during his own Americana wanderings. These stories are lonely, haunting, and sure to bring on a chill to any reader.

  • Cecilyn
    2019-01-15 15:25

    I don't know if it's because I tried the audio version of this book or not, but I spent the first several chapters entirely lost and had no clue what in the world was going on. And there just wasn't anything that kept me interested enough to keep with it. So back to the library it went...maybe I'll try the print version one day.

  • Scott Harris
    2019-01-03 18:19

    Bierce is a classic writer of the American early west, but with fascination with the unexplainable and the strange story. His plots are compelling and intriguing and he plays well with his readers fascination at the oddities. This collection is an easy treasury of such stories and would be enjoyed by audiences wide and diverse

  • James
    2019-01-07 20:15

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Bierce had such a way with words:"Anybody can tell a story; narration is one of the elemental powers of the race. But the talent for description is a gift."Stories were enjoyably eerie!

  • Marts(Thinker)
    2018-12-22 14:59

    Many unusually fantastical horrific ghostly and downright strange classic tales by Bierce...

  • Latasha
    2019-01-14 14:11

    oh Ambrose! some of the stories were awesome, some were bad. but I sure do love him!

  • Jeff
    2019-01-03 21:08

    This was good, but not great. Some of the stories were more boring than terrifying, although there were a few gems. This really should be read just to get a glimpse into the past and to see where Lovecraft got some of his inspiration from.

  • Joshua Gage
    2019-01-06 15:15

    A very solid collection of early fantasy and horror writing. This collection is certainly dated, and undeniably racist at times, but the premise behind most of the stories is enough to still capture audiences' imaginations.

  • Patrick Gibson
    2019-01-05 14:19

    If you like strange... this is for you.

  • kate
    2018-12-23 16:20

    Lots of ghosts, ghouls, and mysterious disappearances. Audio was pretty good.

  • Surreysmum
    2018-12-31 22:13

    For the bibliographically-inclined, it's worth noting that this title covers a number of editions with vastly varying contents - it's a short story collection - so much so that you could argue that the reader of a late edition has not read the same book as the reader of an early edition. I read the free Kindle version derived from a Project Gutenberg transcription/scan (as, I suspect, most readers here will have done), and because the PG metadata was sorely lacking, it took me a while to figure out that what I read corresponds, in terms of stories and story-order, with the first 2/3 of Volume 3 (1910) of Bierce's collected works. It has very little overlap, other than a few of the more famous stories, with the 1903 edition, which you can find for comparison on the Internet Archive. Apparently it was first published in 1893.That said, this was a fun read, especially for the late-October season. The stories are chiefly very short, often told in the first person, and usually quite simple, with the narrative presenting a set of peculiar events that can only be explained - and Bierce by and large lets the reader do their own explaining - by something supernatural &/or very gruesome. There are plenty of abandoned houses and cemeteries for settings, but Bierce's particularly American take on the Gothic also brings in Civil War battlefields and for some reason several gulches, a topographic feature that seems to have some resonance for him. The effect aimed for is the frisson, not full-out horror. The language is accomplished and charming. There are a few departures from the formula, notably Haita the Shepherd, self-consciously mythological. One or two of the stories, especially the first one (The Death of Halpin Frayser) are longer and more complex, and Halpin Frayser in particular is very ambiguous in its solution, to the point where the reader can go down a number of different and probably irrelevant Freudian rabbit-holes trying to figure out exactly what happened. As a product of a late-19th, early-20th century sensibility, the collection also contains a certain amount of expected, if jarring, racism - since most of the stories are set in California, that generally takes the form of stereotypical Chinese characters.A pleasant time-waster.

  • Andrew Garvey
    2018-12-26 19:22

    Being vaguely aware that Bierce was an important, if neglected, voice in the history of horror fiction, I thought I'd give him a try and, with a combination of the Librivox audiobook and this Kindle edition, I listened/read this twenty-four story collection of wildly varying quality with a mixture of admiration and boredom.When Bierce is good - the proto-zombie fiction of 'The Death of Halpin Frayser', the pre-Lovecraftian 'The Damned Thing' or even in a sad little oddity like 'The Baby Tramp' - his stories are hugely imaginative and satisfying.Some of his better stories are based on a single, usually nasty idea - 'One Summer Night', 'A Tough Tussle' (set during the Civil War he wrote so much about) and 'Beyond the Wall' are all good but there are almost as many misses as hits.When he's churning out half-formed ideas in dull, leaden sentence after sentence with stories that manage to be both brief and boring - the wildly racist (even for the time) 'The Haunted Valley' or 'The Night-Doings at Deadmans' and a fistful of other stories that feel like first, half-hearted drafts - he's a real chore.

  • Daniel Ausente
    2018-12-26 14:10

    Antología completa de los cuentos de Bierce que he disfrutado mucho, intentando leer un relato al día. Obviamente, al reunirlos todos hay un poco de todo. Están los relatos más conocidos, desde Un habitante de Carcosa que precede el horror cósmico de Lovecraft al salvaje humor negro de El clan de los Parricidas. De Bierce, además de su humor, me gusta esas recopilaciones de breves historias de fantasmas, casas encantadas y muertos que caminan escritas con sencillez y que no sé si eran inventadas o recogidas en sus viajes (un poco como preámbulo a las compilaciones de Charles Fort), me gusta que su gótico americano más que de mansiones sureñas es de mineros, cabañas y poblados de la frontera, y ahí mezcla western con fantástico (una debilidad personal) o las muchas historias de fantasmas ambientadas en la guerra de secesión, que es otro detalle muy interesante porque el horror de la guerra configura mucho de nuestro horror contemporáneo.

  • Douglas Dalrymple
    2018-12-24 14:01

    I would say that Bierce’s stories span the gap between Poe and Lovecraft, but that’s been said (a lot) before and the fact is that I’ve never read any Lovecraft. I will say that the stories collected here are uneven. Some are excellent, reminiscent in certain respects of stories by John Collier (e.g. “The Damned Thing”) or even Borges (e.g. “An Inhabitant of Carcosa”). Others are less successful. Overall, however, this collection is good fun.