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Can Such Things Be? Paperback – July 9, 2013

4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA --Two masters of the horror form, in handsome new editions. Bierce's baroque nihilism and Bloch's colloquial morbidity have a natural appeal to teens. Both books include the authors' best known story (``The Damned Thing'' and ``Where the Buffalo Roam,'' respectively) and both could be used creatively in the classroom.

Copyright 1990 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Praise for the works of Ambrose Bierce:

''These pieces are not dated, nor are they lacking any of the narrative elements necessary to attract and hold the attention of anyone interested in the horror genre.'' -- SF Booklog

''Ambrose Bierce was an iconoclastic literary genius and . . . most readers will enjoy his malevolent skepticism and underlying rage against hypocrisy . . . His legacy is memorable.'' --Amazon.com editorial review --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 108 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1490956573
  • ISBN-13: 978-1490956572
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,065,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James David Reyome on February 26, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I know more about Bierce himself than of his stories, except for the classic, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", which is quite well known, and rightfully so. But Ambrose Bierce is one of those writers whose persona was at least the equivalent of his tales. I'll leave that to you to discover as I did, however; the joy is in the hunt!

This rendering of "Can Such Things Be?" is excellent, a collection of Bierce's creepier tales. Some are better than others, and the whole was a bit spoiled by the absence of his "Missing Persons" stories, most pointedly the infamous "The Difficulty of Crossing a Field". The complete edition can be found as an ePub on Google Books and can be converted to Kindle format rather easily if you're so inclined, but it lacks the attention to formatting and corrections this one has--all in all, a wonderfully done piece. As such, even with the omissions it's still a VERY worthwhile read with some wonderfully gruesome twists that will stay with you a long time. If you've never read Bierce, this is a terrific introduction and a wonderful free download; it was, in fact, the first for my new Kindle. I suspect you will enjoy it at least as much as I did!
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By timot on March 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
Several editions of "Can Such Things Be?" were published from 1893 to 1910, with the writer, Ambrose Bierce, sometimes changing the selection. The one I recently read, the Wordsworth American Classics version, reprints the last of these. The tales can be called horror although, in most, Bierce crafted them in such a way that fate and psychology vie for importance with the supernatural. The prose is a bit too intricate until it grows on the reader, which it does. The action, violence, and often the plot are slight, but not the eeriness, hence H.P. Lovecraft's admiration. Every story has the feel of an anecdote related by a friend in a creaky, ramshackle house on a snowbound night. This was clearly the idea.

"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," the story which became the melancholy "Twilight Zone" episode of the same name, isn't here, but the book includes "A Resumed Identity," which I was surprised to notice inspired the "Twilight Zone" episode "The Passerby." Also missing are "The Difficulty of Crossing a Field" and one or two other short-shorts that simulated newspaper accounts and seem to have been in earlier editions. Bierce was a trickster and sceptic who'd likely have been amused to know that these later crept into dozens of non-fiction books about the paranormal.

Bierce disappeared with little trace in late 1913 or early 1914, probably in Mexico. Few facts support the legend that Pancho Villa had him killed. It's ironic that Bierce became the subject of a mystery like those in several of his stories. The fortean writer John A. Keel once claimed that, on the last day for which there's evidence Bierce was alive, December 26, 1913, a man named Ambrose disappeared in a southeastern coastal state -- one of the Carolinas, if I recall.
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Bierce's "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" and "Haïta the Shepherd" were both major influences on "The King in Yellow" by Robert W. Chambers, as well as being solid, good stories in their own right. I'm amazed no one's yet tried to turn them into a movie.
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Ambrose Bierce was at his best with his horror and civil war stories. This collection of short stories includes both but focuses more on the horror. H.P. Lovecraft was fond of the opening story "The Death of Halpin Frayser" and this is an interesting tale, but I'd say the best stories in this volume are "The Monnlit Road", "Beyond the Wall", "The Middle Toe of The Right Foot", and "John Mortonson's Funeral". "The Damned Thing" ended up in the TV series "Masters of Horror".

These stories have a unique flavor and transport you to 19th century America.
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Fans of HBO's True Detective are discovering Bierce and Chamber's short stories about Carcosa.

Fans of HP Lovecraft have known about these authors for years.

For me, True Detective awoke a desire to revisit these gothic horror stories that I read in middle school.

They are still loads of fun. Nothing like and old-fashioned ghost story right before bed!
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This book has the "Inhabitant of Carcosa" story in it which is referenced in True Detective, if that's what you're looking for, you just have to search the Kindle copy for Carcosa because the chapters aren't linked, but hey, it's free!
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Everybody was already dead. Strangled in most cases. Perhaps I am too used to 20th-century​ fiction as, although I read all the stories, none of them made any impression. There was no suspense, I could easily guess the outcome and many of the stories just seemed to stop.
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Nice collection of short horror/ supernatural stories. Of course it includes two stories that are the origins of names/places that were used by R. Chambers for his collection book The King in Yellow, which is to say Carcosa and what has been continued and influenced many authors (namely HP Lovecraft) and the lore used in the first season of True Detective.
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