In part, this blog is a revisit of one I wrote in December of 2019, about how one might honor an admired writer. If you are interested, that blog is in the archive section on my web site at http://www.edrewbridges.com/drews-blog/honoring-a-writer
I make no secret of the fact that I continue to be obsessed with Ambrose Bierce, American civil war union soldier and writer/journalist. The less than obsessed reader may be familiar with his short story, Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. This story regularly appears on the short list of greatest American short stories.
He wrote about the experience of the everyday soldier in war. While I have no experience in war myself, others have opined that no one, before or since, has captured the true nature of the soldier’s experience in battle. What I Saw of Shiloh is a good place to start if one wants to read Bierce on this topic.
Bierce’s writing was not limited to war. His Devil’s Dictionary is a collection of humorous and bitter reflections on the human condition. He has been called the “dark side of Mark Twain.” There’s more, but I need to stop somewhere.
So, what have I done to continue to honor him, and perhaps interest new readers in this remarkable writer? I have written a fiction novel about him. It is called A New Haunt for Mr. Bierce. This book is an imagined afterlife of Bierce and asks the reader for a considerable measure of suspension of disbelief, including the proposition that the book is a collaboration between Bierce and me, between the quick and the dead.
In the book, Bierce has been displaced from the house he was haunting and needs to find an appropriate new residence. On this search he encounters other new spirits and against their better judgement, they join a quest to save a human life. In this version of the afterlife, spirits, or ghosts, should not be able to intervene in the lives of the living, but they are pulled into something new in this life beyond mortal death. Read it as a supernatural mystery or as a reflection on aging, loss, and death.
The book is ready for preorder, for a January 10th release. Order from your favorite bookseller, or reserve a signed print copy through www.page158books.com
I have a new book coming out in January 2022, and I’m having a hard time knowing exactly how to market it. It does not fit neatly into any genre, and I’m not confident who would really enjoy this book.
Why did I write such a book? I’ll tell you about that later, but first let me tell you about the book. It is a work of fiction about an actual historical figure, Ambrose Bierce, American civil war Union soldier and writer. It describes a portion of his stay in the afterlife, and the other spirits he encounters there. He joins a quest to save a human life.
This is not historical fiction because it deals with an imaginary world and his place in it at a time after his earthly death. There is a murder, but not much question who did it, so not actually a mystery in the way that genre is usually configured.
It is not a book about religion, but I do create a version of the afterlife with which some may quibble or even be uncomfortable. Some of it is a reflection on aging and death.
The title is A New Haunt for Mr. Bierce, referring to the part of the story where he is displaced from the house he is haunting and needs another. The house he finds becomes a sort of character in the story.
So, why did I write this in the way that I did? It is about my admiration, even obsession with the writing of Ambrose Bierce. How I encountered his work and the degree to which I immersed myself in his writing is beyond the scope of this brief blog.
In the process of taking a deep dive into his life and his work, I had a dream. This dream suggested the basic story line and then the characters took over. Really. That happened.
I read. I write. I learn. I’m in a writing group and I have four published books. I’m still pretty sure I’m not Steinbeck, but my heart and soul have found their way back to where they should be.