The Best Short Stories of O. Henry

The Best Short Stories of O. Henry The ThanStories Written By O Henry Provided An Embarrassment Of Riches For The Compilers Of This VolumeThe Final Selection Of The Thirty Eight Stories In This Collection Offers For The Reader S Delight Those Tales Honored Almost Unanimously By Anthologists And Those That Represent, In Variety And Balance, The Best Work Of America S Favorite StorytellerThey Are Tales In His Most Mellow, Humorous, And Ironic MoodsThey Give The Full Range And Flavor Of The Man Born William Sydney Porter But Known Throughout The World As O Henry, One Of The Great Masters Of The Short Story

William Sydney Porter lends the pen name O Henry to surprise endings signed officially as Sydney Porter His biography shows where he found inspiration for his characters Their voices and his language were products of his era.He was born 1862 Greensboro, North Carolina When he was three years old, his mother died from tuberculosis He left school at fifteen, worked five years in his uncle s d

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  • Hardcover
  • 368 pages
  • The Best Short Stories of O. Henry
  • O. Henry
  • English
  • 10 October 2019
  • 9780679601227

10 thoughts on “The Best Short Stories of O. Henry

  1. says:

    Of course there are two sides to the question Let us look at the other The writers of short stories, the bar has been set And it s really high I ve known it since I was about eight or nine, when my mother bless the heart of the amazing literature teacher I have the privilege to be descended from slipped me a nondescript brown cover book opened to the page with the title The Gift of the Magi.I read the story, and then the rest of a hundred or so in that little brown book, and the impossible standard for all the writers of short fiction has been firmly set in my stubborn over cluttered brain.This bar was really set over a hundred years ago by a certain O.Henry, a prolific New York magazine writer and, of course, former rancher, bank teller, fugitive and convicted criminal, and a man whose last words, the legend has it, were, Pull up the shades so I can see New York I don t want to go home in the dark who was easily cranking out a story or two a week and yet somehow despite the rush and demand and the copious amounts of alcohol was able to create sketches and snippets of the life of everyday people that carried that something for which a regular typewriter keyboard word churner would probably have given a limb or two without the slightest hesitation.It s been over a hundred years since these stories were published, and the population of New York has doubled since the days of The Four Million, and yet O.Henry s writing has not aged, has not become obscure or irrelevant or any other of the disparaging adjectives one can apply to fiction.The are many reasons why these stories remained timelessly readable and relevant For instance, the conversational, gently playful but yet kind tone that somehow manages to teeter just on the verge of irony The humor that shines in every page, in every sentence The we came to expect it twist at the end of every story still taking the reader by surprise, even when we think we got this O.Henry twist thingy down The humorous and meandering introductions to the stories that may or may not have direct relationship to the actual storyline, but nevertheless are essential to it The amazing amount of subtle and gentle and yet very apt characterization that manages to happen in the stories that are just a few pages long But I think the main reason for the timelessness is that people essentially have not changed over the century Of course there are two sides to the question Let us look at the other We often hear shop girls spoken of No such persons exist There are girls who work in shops They make their living that way But why turn their occupation into an adjective Let us be fair We do not refer to the girls who live on Fifth Avenue as marriage girls O.Henry wrote about people the everyday little people , mostly those of New York even though there will be a fair few set in the West and the South of the US, and an entire collection in a banana republic of South America Those who were usually beneath the notice of the great and powerful of this world According to the connoisseur of the cream of society of that time Ward McAllister, there were only about four hundred people in New York who mattered the list lives on, despite its idiocy think of Forbes 400, for example According to O.Henry, there were a few four million, to be exact, the entire population of the metropolis at the time.As the introduction to his best known collection The Four Million simply states Not very long ago some one invented the assertion that there were only Four Hundred people in New York City who were really worth noticing But a wiser man has arisen the census taker and his larger estimate of human interest has been preferred in marking out the field of these little stories of the Four Million The stories focus on the moments in life of the four million , always keeping their unique individuality in focus and not the study of them as a group We see the shop girls, and struggling clerks, cabbies, small time crooks, residents of furnished rooms or cheap furnished apartments, artists, secretaries, and even a likely few of the four hundred in their run ins with the remaining 3,999,600, those who came to the big city to find work because there was not enough to eat at their homes to go around Dulcie lived in a furnished room There is this difference between a furnished room and a boarding house In a furnished room, other people do not know it when you go hungry Most of the stories are the simple snippets of life be it in a big city or on a remote ranch The everyday troubles and pleasures Many of them are love stories not the romance stories kind of love but the kind that springs to life in the tiny furnished apartments after long hours of low paid work which still does not manage to leech the humanity of those who are not the society s cream One dollar and eighty seven cents That was all And sixty cents of it was in pennies Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied Three times Della counted it One dollar and eighty seven cents And the next day would be Christmas Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only 1.87 with which to buy Jim a present She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result Twenty dollars a week doesn t go far Expenses had been greater than she had calculated They always are Only 1.87 to buy a present for Jim Her Jim Our world is a constant contrast of haves and have nots, and have nots have to try very hard just to stay afloat, just to get something out of life that is not very gentle to them The differences between the wealthy and the poor are highlighted but the decision of what to do with the highlights is left up to you O.Henry does not preach he just provides a gentle voice to those who usually don t get it During her first year in the store, Dulcie was paid five dollars per week It would be instructive to know how she lived on that amount Don t care Very well probably you are interested in larger amounts Six dollars is a larger amount I will tell you how she lived on six dollars per week For the room, Dulcie paid two dollars per week On week days her breakfast cost ten cents she made coffee and cooked an egg over the gaslight while she was dressing On Sunday mornings she feasted royally on veal chops and pineapple fritters at Billy s restaurant, at a cost of twenty five cents and tipped the waitress ten cents New York presents so many temptations for one to run into extravagance She had her lunches in the department store restaurant at a cost of sixty cents for the week dinners were 1.05 The evening papers show me a New Yorker going without his daily paper came to six cents and two Sunday papers one for the personal column and the other to read were ten cents The total amounts to 4.76 Now, one has to buy clothes, and I give it up I hear of wonderful bargains in fabrics, and of miracles performed with needle and thread but I am in doubt I hold my pen poised in vain when I would add to Dulcie s life some of those joys that belong to woman by virtue of all the unwritten, sacred, natural, inactive ordinances of the equity of heaven Twice she had been to Coney Island and had ridden the hobby horses Tis a weary thing to count your pleasures by summers instead of by hours And yet the stories are not written to be the social critique, to pursue an agenda, to stir up anger They seem to be written just to give the voice to the 3,999,600 that otherwise just quietly go about their lives in the streets of a big city or the fields of the West, keeping their dignity, and finding little pleasures in life, and asking for no condescending pity, and just being people.You don t need to write angry speeches about social injustices when you can just leave your reader with this As I said before, I dreamed that I was standing near a crowd of prosperous looking angels, and a policeman took me by the wing and asked if I belonged with them Who are they I asked Why, said he, they are the men who hired working girls, and paid em five or six dollars a week to live on Are you one of the bunch Not on your immortality, said I I m only the fellow that set fire to an orphan asylum, and murdered a blind man for his pennies It was an amazing read when I was a child, and remained such through the years The bar set high back then still holds And what I found interesting was that the same stories that struck me the most as a child had the same impact on me, the proud owner of about 50 gray hairs They are here, and I encourage you to take a look, and revisit the magic of O.Henry or maybe discover it for the very first time The Gift of the MagiThe Last LeafAn Unfinished StoryThe Furnished RoomThe Trimmed LampWhile the Auto Waits

  2. says:

    Accused of embezzling money from a Texas bank, O Henry 1862 1910 bolted to SoAmerica in the late 1900s and only returned when his wife was dying of TB There seems to be a murkiness about what actually happened, but I m not keen enough to read a bio OH s wife expired and he spent 3 years in prison A gifted writer and a likeable chap, he had a venturesome life The big question for me, still lacking an ending twist or not is, why did he bolt Well, so much for that.Like most GRs, I read OH in middle school and forgot about him until soppy reviews on GR tweaked me with a sense of nostalgia, and Everyone here cites 3 stories The Gift of the Magi, The Last Leaf, and The Ransom of Red Chief Didn t they read anything else OH is very, very sentimental and heartwarming his stories, w elements borrowed by Hollywood for decades, are aimed at pre teens, Scout s honor Unselfishness, sacrifice, kindness are qualities throughout his homespun fables.qualities that children should be taught Example A young woman, dying of pneumonia in The Last Leaf is certain she will die when the last leaf falls from a tree outside her wintry window The leaf doesnt fall and she regains her health Then we find out an elderly neighbor painted the leaf, though he caught a cold for his good deed and quickly withered away OH can t resist the cheap ending OH has stories for all seasonsall giving voice to a dated , sugared, Sunday School Americana I prefer Maupassant and a Seidlitz powder.

  3. says:

    Prior to reading this collection, my only association with O Henry was the famous Gift of the Magi which has spawned innumerable replications, homages, references, and allusions I was moved to explore the rest of his writing at the recommendation of a short story how to book It claimed O Henry was an acknowledged master of the short story, creating interesting characters with a compelling hook, and then his trademark twist at the end.Yes, there s a twist at the end of every story Every short story ends with a wry little twist Every single one, a little gotcha, like the upbeat episodes of The Twilight Zone.It s a good study, it s very interesting to read O Henry brandishes a formidable vocabulary to great effect a poet in his own right, his colorful expression challenges and massages the brain, hones one s wit by contact At times he feels like concentrated lozenges of P.G Wodehouse because of the cunning phrases and oblique word choice I ve undertaken to keep a notebook of the words I don t recognize, for later study One would do well to read one O Henry story every night.

  4. says:

    And you thought O Henry was just a witty name for a mediocre candy bar O no This guy s another master of the English language, and I m a sucker for a good short story Gift of the Magi and The Last Leaf are unmatched Its just a shame they couldn t have named a tasty Ben Jerry s ice cream flavor after him instead.

  5. says:

    Actually it was much better than my expectations Stories were funny, fluent and quite ironic As summary a love service, medicine and robbery, Jim s watch and Della s hairs, voluntarily to have a feud , voluntarily to had beat up , If the love elixire given the wrong person, One police convict at the train, A loft, One meeting 20 years later at the same place, social triangle, farewell of robber, able to firend with burglar

  6. says:

    Dearest Reader, It is with the greatest pleasure I bring to your attention one of the most excellent writer of the nineteen and twentieth centuries, O Henry In his time, O Henry wrote over six hundred short stories that continue to delight readers to this day His work is entirely memorable, once you have read The Ransom of Red Chief or Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen , you will never forget them The writing is generally humorous, with a profound awareness of social ills Some may find the stories pointless I think this is to be expected He writes about real life , but in such a way as to make it fascinating O Henry creates awareness about our culture even while making fun of it How can that be, you might ask, when O Henry was writing to a completely different generation of people Well, that is just part of the fun We might not live in an era of shop girls and cabbie horses, but human nature is still the same and that is exactly what O Henry writes about He encourages one to come in, sit down, and simply enjoy Read with tongue in cheek, a dose of humor, and willingness for awareness, you are sure to enjoy One of my favorite stories is The Cop and the Anthem Soapy , as the main character is known, is an all around loafer who s goal is to get sent to prison for the winter months They provide warmth, food, and in his mind, the perfect winter retreat Unfortunately, he can t seem to get arrested No matter what he does, it doesn t work He breaks a window, eats without paying, even attempts to abduct a woman, but nothing works Finally, as he walks past a church, he experiences a sudden and wonderful change in his soul He decides to completely turn his life around, get a job, and become a productive man of society At that moment a police officer wanders over and arrests him for loafing He is sentenced to jail for the winter months Not all of his works are humorous, such as The Unfinished Story or the ever depressing, Gift of the Magi This does not mean they are bad They tend to express awareness of human life and rely on the bitter sweet then funny To say that one is better than the other is beyond me, all of O Henry is excellent I hope you will read and enjoy as much as I Yours Truly,

  7. says:

    I discovered this book one day long ago on my parents bookshelf It s kind of a smaller book and had been stuck between a huge atlas of the universe and the wall Once I liberated it I decided to take my dad s advice If you re bored go read O Henry and now I have my own copy sitting on my bookshelf gathering dust and waiting to be discovered by someone new.

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  10. says:

    Some touching moments see the Leaf story , some very unusual settings, and some poignant twists At other times, however, the reader can see his trademark twist coming a mile away Maybe he s a victim of his posterity Like when you go to watch Spaceballs because it was so awesome when you saw it 20 something years ago, but the humor has been redone so many times since then the movie is innefective It s not Mel Brooks s fault Or maybe Spaceballs is just lame, and you were only 12 so the lameness was mistaken for awesomenessIn any case, I liked, but didn t love O Henry s stories as a whole.

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