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Cabbages and Kings

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  566 ratings  ·  32 reviews
A series of stories which each explore some individual aspect of life in a paralytically sleepy Central American town while each advancing some aspect of the larger plot and relating back one to another in a complex structure which slowly explicates its own background even as it painstakingly erects a town which is one of the most detailed literary creations of the period. ...more
Paperback, 148 pages
Published November 3rd 2006 by Hard Press (first published January 1st 1917)
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Community Reviews

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A fairly well-knit collection of short stories, each displaying O. Henry's knack for concealing while he puts on a show. The book has a comic portrayal of the tropics, both its volatile political climate and its meteorological one. The book shows its age by opining race-based comments about the inhabitants, but the white characters don't exactly get the buff and polish either.
A collection of stories set in a fictional "banana republic" of Anchuria, likely modeled after Honduras, where the author, O. Henry, spent some time evading the law after embezzlement and tax evasion charges. The characters are largely American businessmen and government officials, who are all to happy to pull fast cons and loaf about in hammocks, pining for their lost loves and failed dealings in the States. There is humor, primarily slapstick style, in the vaudevillian antics of the expats. Th ...more
This was an interesting collection of stories. The setting is the same throughout-a small coastal town in South America- with the same cast of characters-expatriates who have found themselves living there. All the characters are disreputable, on-the-make shysters with the slang usually found in old mobster movies. This is contrasted with the epic, high-flown language of the narration, which adds an extra layer of plain ridiculousness and sly humor. I enjoyed reading this, but, except for a few r ...more
Harker US Library
You’ve probably heard of O. Henry, the early twentieth-century American author of countless humorous short stories. And the phrase “cabbages and kings” will ring a bell to anyone who’s familiar with Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poems. (One of his most famous, “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” promises to tell the story of “shoes and ships and sealing-wax / And cabbages and kings.”) But you’ve almost certainly never heard them in combination, since Henry’s collection of closely interrelated short stori ...more
First of all, O. Henry is a brilliant writer, which is why I read this collection in the first place. I remembered a short story called A Retrieved Reformation that I read in high school, I found the story and read it and found it as brilliant as I remembered, then (since O. Henry wrote it) I decided to read some more.
Cabbages and Kings wasn't terrific, though the writing is terrific. The stories were a little lackluster. They followed various inhabitants of a port city in the tropical Republic
Robert Stewart
I love O. Henry. He had a unique grammar and diction. This book is a chain a short stories that could just as easily be called a novel. But I think the contrivances at the end, which are meant to tie the thing together, rather undermine the charm of the book.

Still, this is well worth reading. If for no other reason, it gives you a taste of what O'Henry's exile in Latin America was like.
This is definitely not O. Henry at his best. His strength is with the individual short story - this book is a collection of short stories which is supposed to have a common thread. I began to enjoy the stories more when I stopped trying to fit them all together and read them simply as short stories, separate and distinct from one another. The resolution of the story was, I admit quite funny.
This is one of my all-time favorite books, one that I re-read often. The language is brilliant and humorous, the setting is tropical, and the characters are memorable. Each chapter could stand alone as a short story, but they string together to form a novel. I read it when I need to remember that life shouldn't be taken quite so seriously. I can't recommend this one enough.
A collection of stories with a common thread and an intriguing mystery at its outset. I thought the twist of the mystery trite although the clues were there and the pieces fit. But learning the resolution is nothing compared to O'Henry's brilliant storytelling. Will definitely read more O'Henry works.
Dec 02, 2008 Bill added it
Fun story full of vignettes revolving around this small banana republic. O'Henry has the best vocabulary I've ever read. He is also sort of racist in that 1915 sort of way regarding islanders, but not as bad as I would've expected.
I probably should have loved this, but I just couldn't let myself enjoy it.
LadiesBookTea Since 1993
Also read other short stories by O. Henry
Minoy Jose
Mar 24, 2014 Minoy Jose rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of O Henry, Early 20th century English lovers
When I started with this collection of inter-connected short stories, I was not very impressed. I could not find the charm and attraction that I found in his other famous short stories like the very well known 'The Gift of the Magi'. But slowly and surely, this collection slipped a tight grip around me. I started enjoying his wit and got adjusted to the archaic English. Although it did slow me down a lot, because I cannot proceed without knowing the meaning :) the archaic English as well as the ...more
O. Henry's "Cabbages and Kings" is yet another capital "L" piece of Literature that surprised me by actually being good. Theoretically, I guess it's supposed to be 18 (or 19 since the first isn't numbered) short stories. But, the stories are intertwined and tell one overall story. So, in that sense, it's actually a novel. Anyway, it's nicely written with interesting characters and wonderful descriptions. The stories are sort of tongue-in-cheek and there's a nice twist at the end. I rate it at a ...more
Laurie Tomchak
As one who is not a fan of short stories, I came to this book, termed a novel, with some eagerness to experience O. Henry in a more extended form. I was somewhat disappointed because the volume was actually a collection of short stories with a common theme, that of political events in Honduras seen from a "gringo" point of view. O. Henry's style is lively, and one learns a lot about U.S. society of the fin de siecle. One does not learn that much about Honduras, but that is probably not too surpr ...more
Ndiritu Wahome
Feb 07, 2014 Ndiritu Wahome rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ndiritu by: Ndiritu
A very intriguing book. I wrote the full review here: http://thesadartistandotherfairytales...
This is by far my favorite short story collection by O. Henry. The tales take place in the same locale, a fictitious banana republic of the American tropics. There is an over-arcing plot that runs through the stories, concerning the ruling potentate's abdication and sudden departure with the nation's treasury funds, creating a mystery that isn't solved until the final vignette. Along the way, we meet an amusing cast of characters, each one with his own colorful background. The best part of the b ...more
Rob Mills
O Henry is always such a pleasure to read, though he does challenge your lexicon (well.. mine at least), which I consider good for ones mental constitution.
Anyway, a very languid read that outlines the most amazing stories one could imagine about the tropics. The book is essentially a series of short stories with one or two threads tying it all together. The stories get better as you get deeper and there are two fantastic twists, one comedic and one perhaps dramatic, that were very satisfying.
Don Gubler
Nice stories in the O. Henry style with nice connections.
The author's stamp is definitely here. His tongue in cheek observations and turns of phrase are as effective as ever. This complex hybrid of short story and novel, however, can be hard to follow and isn't always as satisying as his famous short stories. Maybe as a reader I'm conditioned a more forumlaic payoff from O. Henry and this, being a different animal, didn't come off the same. An interesting and imaginative read nonetheless.
Henry, O.
The Complete Works of O. Henry

In compilation only.

1) The Poem: By the Carpenter
2) "Fox-in-the-Morning"
3) The Lotus and the Bottle
4) Smith
5) Caught
6) Cupid's Exile Number
7) Two
8) The Phonograph and the Graft
9) Money Maze
10) The Admiral
11) The Flag Paramount
12) The Shamrock and the Palm
13) The Remnants of the Code
14) Shoes
15) Ships
16) Masters of Arts
17) Dicky
18) Rouge et Noir
19) Two Recalls
20) The Vitagraphoscope
O. Henry's style can be hard to get into, and the story is not even close to linear, but the twists are always too good to miss! The book had hit or miss stories, but It was interesting to read them as a "novel" since that is unique for Henry. It's not his best work, but it was satisfying (if a binturong hard to follow)
I have a hard time not finishing a book. I read this one chapter at a time, and I was glad when I came to the end. I had better hopes from an O' Henry book, but I was disappointed. There are a lot of lazy drunken men. There were Greedy Government leaders. People stealing money. Not my favorite kind of book.
O.Henry at his worst set of short stories. I couldnt find a relation between the stories as there was supposed to be some relation somewhere as i had heard. Only thing was stories drifted from one person to other with some small link, but totally there was no sense in any story. Well i read 50 % :(
I generally love Henry. This one feels a bit much. I am struggling through it, as I hate to leave a book unread. Maybe the trick with O. Henry is small doeses, but since these stories all tie together, I don't feel I can read one or two and then come back later. I feel pressed to finish.
Leslie Remer
I thought this book was very interesting in the way it was written. It's a series of short stories that run together like a novel, but if I hadn't read that I wouldn't have realized it. I would have thought it was a novel. Great feel for tropical living. I enjoyed it.
Artem Huletski
Теперь понятно, что Джон Леннон - Морж, а его меланхолический друг Плотник - О.Генри. Остроумные хроники маленькой банановой республики в Карибском море - Анчурии, читающиеся легко и приятно. А если вам нужен ответ, обращайтесь к Всевышнему, Купидону или на Уолл-Стрит.
Hunter Carl
You really to like short stories and unconventional approaches to novels. Really work for the meaning in this book, and you will love it!
Maria Creel
Possibly my favorite book. You'll be ready to move to South America by chapter 2.
Ann Dowd
Reading for my book group - quirky, nicely layered language, dry humor.
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William Sydney Porter lends the pen name "O. Henry" to surprise endings signed officially as Sydney Porter. His biography shows where he found inspiration for his characters. Their voices and his language were products of his era.

He was born 1862 Greensboro, North Carolina. When he was three years old, his mother died from tuberculosis. He left school at fifteen, worked five years in uncle's drugs
More about O. Henry...
The Gift of the Magi Selected Stories The Ransom of Red Chief The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories The Best Short Stories of O. Henry

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