100 Selected Stories by O. Henry

o henryO. Henry was just a pen name. His real name was William Sydney Porter and he was born at the year 1862 at Greensboro, North Carolina. He left school when he was 15 years old, and after some time, moved to Texas. Over there he was notable for some things, like editing a humor magazine and worked for a bank in Austin, but sadly, he was accused for stealing some money there, because he was a careless record keeper. Although he was most probably innocent, O. Henry freaked out, and fled to Honduras. After some time, he returned back to Austin to be with his dying wife. There he was judged, and spent three years in prison in Ohio.

Some stories that he wrote was inspired when he was in prison. When he was released, he moved to new York and became a writer. One interesting feature was that some of his short stories have interesting plot twists, at the very end he would twist in something very interesting and ironical. He was once asked on how he got the plots, and he simply replied:

“Oh, everywhere. There are stories in everything.”

And after that it was noted how he grabbed a menu, and made a short story of it: Springtime In à la Carte.

Most of the stories that O. Henry wrote in this collection is associated with daily life. The setting could be set in the streets, houses or apartments in New York, where he had once lived in the early 1900’s. Another factor of the setting of this story is that at the 1800’s to the 1900’s there was a sudden expansion in human population, and lots of European people went over to New York to start lives.

Another thing that O. Henry actually enjoyed to write was common place, finding himself most interested with the lives, changes and challenges of other people. His stories are well known for their coincidences too! And like I mentioned above, their ironic humor.

One story that I really love is the very first and popular story that a lot of people know, The Gift of The Magi. The story revolves around a young couple who has two fine things, the girl, whose name was Della had such fine beautiful hair, and the boy was named Jim, and he had a lovely golden watch. Both of them were satisfied and happy with their current lives. But here comes a problem. They weren’t very rich, and Christmas was coming. Poor Della was crying her eyes out at the thought of giving nothing to her husband.

She scoured around the shop trying to find a good gift for her husband when she finally found it. A small shop that sold a golden chain that would match well with his watch. And she knew just how to pay it. A few hours later, the chain was with her, and she trudged home, very very happy.

When her husband reached home, she presented her gift, and told him to see whether it will do well with her watch. But then here comes the twist. It turned out her husband had sold his watch to buy her her gift. Beautiful, expensive and exotic watches to comb her hair. But she couldn’t use it due to the fact that she had used all her hair to buy her Jim’s gift.  I find the story quite funny was the ironic in the end. She got the chain for his watch by selling her hair, but he sold it for combs for her hair.

There are more great and funny stories in this collection. Some of them ending with great irony while others have fairy tale happy endings. Over his life, O. Henry wrote so much stories, and lots and lots are known throughout the world. But what about the less-famous ones? Get the biggest O. Henry collection you can get, have a  blanket and cookies, and enjoy.

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