Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Short Story Review: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

I chose to read this short story as part of the LOST books challenge, and am choosing to post my long overdue review today on the day of the season 5 finale. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" first makes it appearance in Season 2 of LOST when John Locke is reading it in the hatch. It looks like Locke is reading a book.
I don't really understand where that book came from, because not only is this a short story, it's a really short story! But it's a good one, and introduces a plot twist that is believed to have later influenced some other great stories and films.

The story opens with a man about to be executed on a bridge by hanging. The opening scene sets up with the man's last thoughts and his contemplation of how he might escape this almost certain death. We then cut to the past, and details of how the man came to be on the bridge about to die come to light. This is also quite a short section and then we are back to the execution. However, when he falls to his death, he realizes he is not actually dead and swims to his escape. And so he is cleverly trying to escape and just reaching home when....well that's all I can say.

I read this story in about 15 minutes. I think I read it much too quickly, because I thought it was good, but forgot about it. Until later, when I was driving I started thinking about it again. I think this little story is actually quite effective and packs a little punch. But I feel it's hard to say much about it without spoiling it completely!

Relationship to LOST
Well, there's a few things. First, there's the format of the story. Present/past/present. Very much the way the story of LOST is told. Secondly, there is this gem of a line!
"The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which--once, twice, and again--he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue."
If that doesn't remind you of LOST, I don't know what would! :)

I really recommend taking the short amount of time it takes to read this story...I look forward to having more time to read Ambrose Bierce's stories.



Anonymous said...

I really like "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge." When I was teaching high school English, I used this story with my sophomores. It's a great one for discussing prediction-making, and it's just generally easy to get caught up in.

bermudaonion said...

I want to read more short stories - this sounds like a good one to try.

Ti said...

There is a short movie based on this book. I was a film major and we studied it quite a bit. The movie is really good but I haven't read the short story.

Amy said...

Molly..good teacher you are! I had never heard of it! won't take you long to read this one!, I really want to see the film!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

This sounds like something I probably would have had to read freshman year of high school but never did. It sounds interesting. I will have to keep it in the back of my mind to read.

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