Adventures in Bookland: The Death of Halpin Frayser by Ambrose Bierce
Some stories are spare and lean: every excess word trimmed away in service of the narrative. But others are ornate, luxurious plays upon the sound and texture and harmonics of words: like a coral reef growing upon the wreck of a foundered ship. The Death of Halpin Frayser belongs in the latter category: a feast of word play, allusion and writing for word’s sake. As such, it requires somewhat closer attention from the reader than the first sort of story, but it’s an effort worth the making for a voyage into a literary jungle, fecund with life and texture.