The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories by O. Henry
“A story of sacrificial love, The Gift of the Magi is a classic for the Christmas season and beyond. A husband and wife cannot afford to give each other presents unless they give up their own greatest treasures. With touching twists, O. Henry unfolds a story of profound implications.”
I think I should preface this review by saying I’ve never been a fan of short stories. However, I am completely in love with O. Henry. I first read The Gift of the Magi in one of my high school English textbooks and from that moment on, I was a fan. Not just a fan of the story (which is amazing), but of Henry’s style of writing as well. I love irony and sarcasm and O. Henry is a master of both.
William Sydney Porter, born 11 Sept 1862 in Greensboro, NC, is best known by his pen name O. Henry. O. Henry’s short stories are known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and clever twist endings. (He is buried in Ashville, NC, where my mom and I are planning a short vacation later this spring. I’ll have to make note to visit his grave.)
You may have heard of the O. Henry Award, which is a prestigious annual prize named after Porter and given to outstanding short stories.
In 1952, a film featuring five stories, called O. Henry’s Full House, was made. The episode “The Cop and the Anthem” stars Charles Laughton and Marilyn Monroe. The other stories are “The Clarion Call”, “The Last Leaf”, “The Ransom of Red Chief” (starring Fred Allen and Oscar Levant), and “The Gift of the Magi”. There have been several other film version of “The Gift of the Magi” made as well.
The O. Henry House and O. Henry Hall, both in Austin, Texas, are named for him. O. Henry Hall, now owned by the University of Texas, previously served as the federal courthouse in which O. Henry was convicted of embezzlement from the bank he worked in. (He was sentenced to five years in prison but was released after three.)
Porter has elementary schools named for him in Greensboro, North Carolina (William Sydney Porter Elementary) and Garland, Texas (O. Henry Elementary), as well as a middle school in Austin, Texas (O. Henry Middle School). The O. Henry Hotel in Greensboro is also named for Porter.
It’s difficult to write a review of short stories because it would be so easy to give away the endings. I’ve never read an O. Henry story where I knew how it would end before I read it. His gift of irony without bitterness is fabulous. At only 159 pages, this book is a quick read. Even if you pick it up every once in a while and read one story at a time, rather than reading it straight through, you’ll be done before you know it and ready for more.
Stories included in this edition are:
The Gift of the Magi (my favorite)
Lost on Dress Parade
The Trimmed Lamp
The Handbook of Hymen
The Count and the Wedding Guest
The Furnished Room
The Last Leaf
The Making of a New Yorker
The Man Higher Up
While the Auto Waits
Whistling Dick’s Christmas Stocking (the first story published under the pen name O. Henry)
A Newspaper Story
The Ransom of Red Chief (Mama’s favorite)
The Whirlgig of Life
Confessions of a Humorist
Another bonus of this edition, if you want to own it as I did, so that you can read a little O. Henry whenever you want, it’s only $10.00 at B&N. It’s also available for the Nook for $1.99.
Published 10 Nov 2008 by BARNES & NOBLE PUB.
For more info on O. Henry, check out wikipedia.
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