As I avidly devour O Henry’s short stories I’m compelled to sing his praises as a wordsmith! His command of the English language, his artistic embellishments, the depth of his characters and tantalising twists at the end are so engrossing.
William Sydney Porter, O Henry was his pen name, wrote tales that romanticised the common, having spent five years in prison for embezzlement he was himself a colourful character! His mastery of wit, wordplay and clever surprise endings are outstanding.
O Henry portrays cads and tragedy vividly drawing me in with his talent to really set the scene. To paint his characters with refined accuracy to totally transported me into his long ago world of deviousness and treachery. ‘Colourful’ inadequately describes his use of language and eccentric characters. With each story dripping with laconic irreverence, a mode most Aussies dribble daily.
Of course here in rural Australia the library only holds one such story preserved in the depths of their … fearful least this rare gem might decay or go astray. Fortunately a friend kindly lent me her own 1945 copy of a selection of his stories from amongst 600! Gifted to her mother before marriage, she decorated the fly with butterfly wings.
His sharp imagination is awe inspiring, his stories of another world, one not so long past, are intriguing. I like that they average about seven pages with the longest being 25, easy bedtime reading to make one fall into slumber with a smile on the dial.
American enthusiasts may have easier access to his writings in their libraries but as they were composed pre internet there are not so many online, but here are a few.