The Black Mass 6: The Death of Halpin Frayser by Ambrose Bierce

The Black Mass

Join us on Fri­day at a lit­tle after 12 noon or 4pm Pacif­ic time for anoth­er episode in the land­mark radio dra­ma series The Black Mass, cre­at­ed by the late Erik Bauers­feld and his col­leagues at the Paci­fi­ca radio sta­tion KPFA in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, over fifty years ago. In 30 chill­ing tales of mys­tery, imag­i­na­tion and the human mind, The Black Mass brings you some of literature’s most haunt­ing sto­ries, by mas­ters of the craft — many of whom are best-known in oth­er fields.

Note that the episode will not start until the track play­ing at the top of the hour has fin­ished, so the actu­al start time of the episode will be a few min­utes after the hour.

Today: The Death of Halpin Frayser by Ambrose Bierce

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, due to a tech­ni­cal hitch, we repeat­ed last week’s episode — anoth­er Ambrose Bierce piece, The Moon­lit Road, by mis­take. We’ll run The Death of Halpin Frayser on May 14th.

Wikipedia says of Ambrose Bierce:

Ambrose Gwin­nett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – cir­ca 1914) was an Amer­i­can short sto­ry writer, jour­nal­ist, poet, and Civ­il War vet­er­an. His book The Dev­il’s Dic­tio­nary was named as one of “The 100 Great­est Mas­ter­pieces of Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture” by the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion Bicen­ten­ni­al Admin­is­tra­tion. His sto­ry “An Occur­rence at Owl Creek Bridge” has been described as “one of the most famous and fre­quent­ly anthol­o­gized sto­ries in Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture”; and his book Tales of Sol­diers and Civil­ians (also pub­lished as In the Midst of Life) was named by the Groli­er Club as one of the 100 most influ­en­tial Amer­i­can books print­ed before 1900.

A pro­lif­ic and ver­sa­tile writer, Bierce was regard­ed as one of the most influ­en­tial jour­nal­ists in the Unit­ed States, and as a pio­neer­ing writer of real­ist fic­tion. For his hor­ror writ­ing, Michael Dir­da ranked him along­side Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Love­craft. S. T. Joshi spec­u­lates that he may well be the great­est satirist Amer­i­ca has ever pro­duced, and in this regard can take his place with such fig­ures as Juve­nal, Swift, and Voltaire. His war sto­ries influ­enced Stephen Crane, Ernest Hem­ing­way, and oth­ers, and he was con­sid­ered an influ­en­tial and feared lit­er­ary crit­ic. In recent decades Bierce has gained wider respect as a fab­u­list and for his poetry.

The Black Mass art­work was cre­at­ed by Ter­ry Lightfoot.