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The Best of O. Henry {26 stories} by O.…

The Best of O. Henry {26 stories}

by O. Henry

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O. Henry deftly plays with words and settings, taking the reader on a brief journey into the lives of his characters. The twist endings which he indulges in are occasionally predictable, but usually touching or amusing.
--J. ( )
  Hamburgerclan | Oct 29, 2016 |
This is definitely a great starting point for those interested in O. Henry. These stories really remind me a bit of Roald Dahl without all of the grimness but with some of the twisted endings crossed with the humanity element that Richard Yates provides. Most of them take place in NYC and focus on the issues of the people there and this collection in particular is worth looking at if you are a purist because the stories are published in the original submitted form vs. the post edited forms that have been most often popularized.

I don't know too much about O. Henry as a person except that he kept quite a low profile and was, at one time imprisoned. I also know that he did earn a decent salary for a writer in his day and did live to see some high acclaim, which many writers would have loved to have seen (ahem Edgar Allan Poe for example) But all of this seems well deserved.

To get to my point, however, is that usually throughout the course of several stories, you gain a real sense of the author as a person...O. Henry seems to adeptly obscure himself within so many varied characters dealing with so many different issues in life and from so many walks of life. It is almost as if he is able to overhear all of these stories or observe them happening around him and simply write them down. It really heightens the sense of realism and makes you forget that they are perhaps simple works of fiction. There's a story of John Cheever's I just finished reading a couple of days ago called The Enormous Radio (fantastic story, I might add) in which a couple purchases a radio and can hear the transmission of all conversations in their building over it instead of what they'd planned on hearing which includes the actual radio stations. In O. Henry's case, it's like he had an Enormous Radio to observe and hear all of NYC's aches and pains as well as joys and what comes out of this is a tremendous document that proves wholly worth reading. ( )
  kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
I read a few of O. Henry's stories (real name William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910) in high school anthologies, and am glad for a chance to finally read the best of his stories in book form. O. Henry was a master of gentle humor and ironic twist endings, but I nearly quit the book after reading the first story, "A Harlem Tragedy", in which a New York wife is jealous of another wife whose husband shows his love for her by periodic beatings, followed by loving apologies and presents -- and she loves it! The jealous wife is driven to goad her gentle husband into similar treatment by berating him and slapping him about all the housework she does on her own -- and in the concluding lines cries to her friend: "He -- he never touched me," she sobbed, "and -- he's -- oh, Lord -- he's washin' the clothes -- he's washin' the clothes!"

A story that would turn stomachs today, but I'm torn over how much to overlook it, given the different social mores of a century ago. I have to wonder, though, how the actual abused wives of the time must have reacted when reading this story, and seeing their plight turned into a humorous anecdote.

That said, the other stories are marvelous, a few moving me to tears at the end ("The Furnished Room", "The Skylight Room" and "The Last Leaf", a wonderfully moving tale of love and sacrifice), and one that was milk-snort-out-the-nose funny, "The Ransom of Red Chief". And of course there is O. Henry's iconic tale of ironic sacrifice in the name of love, "The Gifts of the Magi". O. Henry's stories, with a fine economy of words, peek into the New York heart and tell its stories with a clever grace. ( )
  burnit99 | Jan 27, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 156138111X, Hardcover)

The Pearson Education Library Collection offers you over 1200 fiction, nonfiction, classic, adapted classic, illustrated classic, short stories, biographies, special anthologies, atlases, visual dictionaries, history trade, animal, sports titles and more!

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 22 Aug 2015 07:09:57 -0400)

A collection of twenty-six short stories, all but one of which appeared in the "New York world."

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