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The Complete Works of O. Henry

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1 review about The Complete Works of O. Henry

Short story long

  • Sep 5, 2013
William Sidney Porter was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, grew up in Austin, Texas, worked in real estate and the General Land Office and then a bank, where he was accused of dipping into the funds, fled to Central America leaving behind his young and sickly wife, returning to the US only in time to watch her die and serve time for his bank crime in prison in Columbus, Ohio . . . . where he began to write under the name of O. Henry.

Best known for his short stories with a twist ("The Gift of the Magi" is an often taught story in literature anthologies), O. Henry was a prolific and popular writer and here is collected all of his output in 1,692 pages.  Collected from 14 different books he published in his lifetime (including a couple of posthumous collections) these stories mostly run from 4 to 10 pages that can be read in minutes.  But not all in one sitting;  attempting to read all these contiguously is both a misuse of their purpose and an approach that will dull your appreciation of their worth.  I read through them in 5 different stretches over a period of 9 months, interspersed with my other ongoing reading.

And what comes through is the breadth of life experiences that O. Henry wrote about with casual and apparently facile knowledge, which makes the thumbnail biography with which I started this review the more fascinating.  O. Henry was, or was able as a writer to convince the reader (even better as an indication of his skill as a writer), the characters he write about.  Perhaps his biography is more interesting than his output.  Or maybe if we read close enough between the lines we can read his biography in the gentle humor, irony, optimism, and acceptance of fate in his writing voice.  Either way, this collection is a classic and a worthy buy to keep on the shelf and pull down for doses as needed.

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September 20, 2013
Thanks for sharing!
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