Friday, January 28, 2011

Ambrose Bierce stacked upon Mark Twain

In this year of Twain, his bulky autobiography, I’m thankful for the writings of Ambrose Bierce. Bierce who wrote “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, the film of which haunted me as a kid, his stories that make Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage” seem like pabulum to me.

Have a read of Bierce when the historians wax on about this commemorative 150th year of the beginning of the Civil, War Between the States, the War of Northern Aggression, the event which we’re still distilling, battlefields we’re still visiting. Let his writing contrast with the glory...and provide you a different "soundtrack" with a bitter Bierce bite.

Bierce was the real deal in my humble book, the veteran, the journalist, the adventurer, the critic who saw war as a human foible, a repeated enterprise, a waste, a cathartic experience, a folly, a bitter tragedy. Unlike Hemingway, Bierce was a soldier in a very real sense.

And at the age of ’71, he went on a tour of his battlefield nightmares and then went south across the border, hooked up with Poncho Villa and…like that…poof…he was gone.

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