genre: fiction short stories
My mother-in-law found, in a used book bin, this 1960s collection of O. Henry's stories that all take place in New York City. She picked it up for me and I've been nibbling away at it here and there for quite some time now. Two of the stories were already familiar to me, The Gift of the Magi and The Last Leaf - but all the others were fresh and new.
Each character's ties to New York are unique and, for the most part, they are pawns in the great games being played out in that glorious city. Shop girls and bar tenders, actors and laundresses and piano teachers - everyone wants just one little piece of happiness. The thing about O. Henry, and either you'll like it or you won't, is that there is always a zinger at the end, always something is turned on its head. I happen to find it intriguing, waiting to see what isn't really what it seems, but it might come off as formulaic. For myself, I find these a wonderful diversion - his wit is sharp and it's so clear that he has studied the human character - you can almost see him sitting somewhere and listening in on a snippet of conversation and then plotting an entire story around it.
While I was never dying to finish reading them, I enjoyed myself muchly.