Deal Me In, Week 49 ~ “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce

Card picked: Three of Diamonds – A Wild Card

From: Found online at

Thoughts: Growing up, two of my favorite authors were Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle. Despite this, I have a gaping hole in my literary knowledge when it comes to their contemporaries. Ambrose Bierce would be one of those holes. In the spirit of winter tales, I thought “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” would be an excellent choice for my last wild card of 2014. I was not disappointed.

It’s hard to talk about this story without being spoilery. It’s very tight. Way back in my writing of fiction classes, we talked a lot about putting the right details in a story, especially a short story when economy of words is necessary. The driftwood, the ticking of Farquhar’s watch, these are details in section one that return without being over explained later on in the tale. The events are visceral. For someone like me who has a thing about suffocation *and* water, it was pretty rough going for a few sentences.

To die of hanging at the bottom of a river!–the idea seemed to him ludicrous.

Bierce packs a wallop in a few thousand words.

About the Author: Civil War veteran, journalist, critic, writer, and general agitator, Ambrose Bierce led one heck of a life and, not to be out-done by death, disappeared mysteriously. Once, when in college, I almost bought The Devil’s Dictionary, but put it back because I still had to buy my textbooks. And did you know that Bierce is a character in  the direct-to-video From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter? I have a feeling that my imaginary version of that movie is a lot different than the reality.

5 thoughts on “Deal Me In, Week 49 ~ “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

  1. Dale

    Great story and great post! This is the only Bierce story I’ve read but everytime I read a post about him, I learn something new. Thanks for the “About the Author” section of your post!

  2. Jay

    I had an old book club that – once a year in July – would have a ‘short story month’ where each of the 7 or 8 members would pick a short story and instead of reading a novel that month we’d read all the stories. One member picked this one once, commenting when he sent me his selection that “It’s pretty good and keeps you hanging until the end.” Ha ha ha.

    You are correct about Bierce’s focus not just on detail, but on key details.

    I’m slowly expanding my Bierce reading. He is one of my favorites of that era.

  3. Pingback: The Best I Read in 2014 | The Writerly Reader

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