14 thoughts on “O. HENRY Stories


    “They were enemies by the law written when the rocks were molten.”

    A wonderful display of a fading violet called Maggie who always went to to the strictly-ruled-attendance dance – in a boxing hall? – accompanied by her best friend and her best friend’s ‘fellow’. Well, what can one say, other than Oh, Henry, how did you fill your modern baroque style with such emotions of rivalry, friendship and brash fisticuffs, and the man Maggie chose to be escorted by with something sharper than a fist. Possible spoiler Is that it all worked well in the end for Maggie. Seems to indicate that instant risk-taking foolhardy instinctive pragmatism is worth more than enduring a slog of a lifeful?
    Coming out as a de-sheathing.


    “Joe and Delia met in an atelier where a number of art and music students had gathered to discuss chiaroscuro, Wagner, music, Rembrandt’s works, pictures, Waldteufel, wall paper, Chopin and Oolong.”

    Another married couple into art and literature, trying to base their very existence on it, caring what each of them think of the other in marriage. I say ‘another’ couple, because half an hour ago I reviewed HERE The Door of Opportunity by W Somerset Maugham. A completely different plot and characterisation, but if you compare one story to the other in their (for me just now) synchronously preternatural mutuality of synergy, you can read even further beyond each story to new realms of thought about married couples who depend in some way on art and literature as their raison d’être alongside the day jobs. Compare and CONTRAST these two stories, in fact.
    Oolong as well as the reference at the start of the O Henry story to the Great Wall of China. Today its Coronalwall!


    “Silent, grim, colossal, the big city has ever stood against its revilers. They call it hard as iron; they say that no pulse of pity beats in its bosom; they compare its streets with lonely forests and deserts of lava.”

    …and in the city boarding-house, a married couple bicker with flatirons etc, flung at each other, as the folks sit on the outside stoop, and all hell breaks loose when a six year old boy is found to be lost. The couple halt their warfare to speculate on how they would feel if their own six year old boy had been born six years before, and was now lost, as lost he actually was by dint of never having been here at all, I guess. Whether the lost boy is found or not, YOU have to guess, like me, whether, thereafter, the couple resume their lethal marital warfare. Jawn was the husband’s name, by the way.


    “While looking in her mirror she had seen fairyland and herself, a princess, just awakening from a long slumber.”

    This word-flighty story of Dulcie – who scrimps in Manhattan with weekly wages of a debatable small amount of dollars, five or six – and of Piggy, a man who I did not seem to like, and hoped Dulcie would not get attached to – and of a ‘fly cop’ or ‘angel policeman’ who seems to know the narrator – and of whether the only things that are not debatable by others at all are the telling of your dreams and what a parrot might say to you. The story seems to be a suitably debatable and happenstance companion to ‘Freda’ that I reviewed earlier today here.


    “His scarfpin was a large diamond, oddly set.”

    I’ll meet this forgotten story’s next reader here, at precisely 3.19 pm in 2040. That thought will keep me alive. Better than spoiling its plot.


    By ‘juxtaposition’ with the precocious boy, also wildly and knowingly talking to adults, in William Trevor’s GOING HOME (a story I happened to read only just half an ago HERE), the love between two lovers is now not lost in translation, but won!


    “A quinzied mother-in-law had knocked his lares and penates sky-high.”

    John used to his routines coming home from work on the shepherding bus and later regular temptation to go out and out again to play pool with his mates, leaving his crazy quilter of a wife at home. The shock of her sudden absence at home to visit her sick mother, makes him feel guilty at the way he is unappreciative of her, and if I tell you more about it that would give you no need to read this story at all. The story is its own false alarm, I guess. O, Henry, the readers love thee after all. Time’s pendulum over routine’s pit, notwithstanding.


    “not to be sneezed at”

    A firm’s younger replacement buyer (co-owner of the firm) from prick-smart Cactus, Texas, a city that has now been replaced with the “earthquakes and Negroes and monkeys and malarial fever and volcanoes” of Caracas City, instead. But he gets his woman nevertheless with the enticements of a valuable diamond ring and a gold marriage band.. Both misogyny (in assessing hidden female motives) and racism deployed just for the story’s smart arse ending. O, Henry, shame on you. But without such stories we would not know what people thought back then, nor learn to remind ourselves what similar things many of them still think now!


    “It is a plot to drive me to bay rum and a monologuing, thumb-handed barber.”

    Rich man Blinker fed up today with signatures and scratchy pens, takes a boat on the river and meets a common girl who sort of teaches him that the common mob has its worthy moments, a sort of falling in love on Blinker’s part, and she says where she lives. So someone wrote down that building for this story’s title with a scratchy pen, accepting, with resigned loss, Blinker’s own fate, with a new common wisdom. Blinker and title found to be mutually owned. The boat’s collision with another boat being a dress rehearsal for wisdom’s near-death flashpoint of synchronicity. Stay close or you’ll sink!


    “, thus inoculating against kingocracy with a drop of its own virus.”

    I am afraid I did not understand at all this story about a hose-cart driver’s seeming biased obsession with the war between Japan and Russia, utilising pins on a map.


    “Gather the idea, girls — all black, you know, with the preference for crêpe de — oh, crêpe de Chine — that’s it. All black, and that sad, faraway look, and the hair shining under the black veil…”

    A girl in China black, seemingly in the “mullygrubs”, enjoys dressing as a Goth, and makes up a whole story to a new admirer about a Count’s death in Italy, her fiancé, so that she can dress in black as mourning. In fact, all ends romantic and happy! Or does it? A neat ending to this story, whatever the case.

    “I met him to-day on the Bowery, and what do you think he does? Comes up and shakes hands.”

  12. Pingback: THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS: Books as a Merging of Wood, Metal & Stone into one Block.


    The story with the world record in so many outlandishly rich similes in so small a space. I challenge you to understand them all. Yet I gather freedom is a tyrant and this story binds you hand and foot in Bohemia (the only country in which you do not live) with all the strictures of deliberated madcap obliquity as shaded with half-grasped meanings of social tipsy gatherings in restaurants (God forbid!), and stolen kisses punished by thumping the kisser so as to maintain suitable distancing. A story about spoilers, bathos and a modernity that out-moderns even our own 2020 vision, a modernity that fetters you nicely forever beyond this story’s prophetic grasp of any viral online progression… beyond the preterite of the preinternet.

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