Short Story #41: The Bubble Reputation: How Another Man's Was Sought and Pricked by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Bubble Reputation: How Another Man's Was Sought and Pricked

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Short Story #41 out of 365

Rating:  (out of 5 stars)

Date Read:  2/5/2014
Source:  This story can be found in Ambrose Bierce's collected works on the Gutenberg Project.


The story begins with a questionable person standing in a graveyard, snooping on the superintendent.  We are told that it is a shifty fellow and that it must be a reporter.  The story jumps back to earlier in the day when the editor of the Daily Malefactor in San Francisco summons a reporter through vacuum tubes to appear (it is the futuristic year of 1930 for this story that was published several decades earlier).  The editor insists that something sinister is going on with the cemetery and directs the report, Mr. Longbo Spittleworth (or agent 216) to investigate it.  The editor tells him that "go and 'seek the bubble reputation."  The reporter agrees but before fully leaving, the editor explains that it is the other man's bubble that is to be sought--not his own.  Once assured, 216 takes off and a few days later, scandalous headlines cover the Daily Malefactor.


On its face value, the story doesn't seem to have much gusto to it.  In total, it doesn't.  But it is chock full of puns.  Lots of puns!  The long listing of headlines from the news that 216 makes has its good share, including:  He Buries His Own Dead Elsewhere., Buried Head Downward., and No Separation of the Sexes; Petitions for Chaperons Unheeded.  All in all, it reminds me much of Terry Gilliam's Brazil in its strange and automated ways.  It's a short read and it takes a few paragraphs to understand that it's a chuckle not to be taken lightly but I'm a fan of Bierce and quite the fan of puns and amusing literature like Douglass Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide the Galaxy.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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