I flip on the TV guide channel and wait for it to scroll to the channels that there is a chance of me watching. But it's not the listings of channel numbers, names and shows that captures my attention. Instead of the usual advertising or muzak, the audio for the cable listings channel is a local radio station, and they are just introducing a dramatic reading of Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. There is definitely nothing better than this to switch to listed on the TV guide, so I listen. I'm familiar with the story, but its been a long time since I've read it, so I don't remember exactly when it ended, although of course I remember where and how. It's an excellent story, so I'm being vague so I won't spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't read it.
I appreciated the storytelling, both by the reader and the author Ambrose Bierce. On first reading, each detail makes perfect sense in the narrative and then later when you know what is coming it still makes sense with the real story. I also like the way at first the protagonist is a sympathetic character, so we're rooting for him, then as we learn a little at a time more about the way he treats people, we don't like him as much, just in time to be shocked but not disappointed by the ending.
I read a modern version of the story once, involving thieves who make their getaway down an empty elevator shaft. It still captures the imagination, but it wasn't written with the same complex layers and attention to both readings of the story.
This is my opportunity to segue from that well-written fictional story to your opportunity to vote on contest entries. If the trick I tried there to link to a not-yet-published-as-I-type-this post didn't work, and I haven't had opportunity to fix it, someone please link to the 14th October Jet Age post in the comments. Last week I offered you an opportunity to win a copy of Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World, by telling me a story. I asked:
What is your favourite anecdote from the history of aviation? In the comments for this post, leave a description, up to 200 words long, of the funniest, most poignant, most inspirational or whatever you think is the "best" story to come out of man's urge to fly.
Please review the entries posted there and in the comments on this post, give your vote (or votes) for the best story there. Use whatever criteria you like for "best," and feel free to lobby, debate, and have fun. I know you will remain your usual civil selves. When I get back to Internet access I will announce the winner, casting an arbitrary vote of my own if your anarcho-democracy has not done my work for me.