Ward McAllister, a nineteenth-century attorney and social climber, once said that there were only four hundred people in New York City who really matt...moreWard McAllister, a nineteenth-century attorney and social climber, once said that there were only four hundred people in New York City who really mattered. This is of course ridiculous, but to New York's social elite of the day, of whom McAllister was one, it was accepted as more or less true.
O. Henry's first published collection of stories was titled "The Four Million." After the title page, O. Henry has a note to the reader:
"Not very long ago some one invented the assertion that there were only 'Four Hundred' people in New York City who were really worth noticing. But a wiser man has arisen—the census taker—and his larger estimate of human interest has been preferred in marking out the field of these little stories of the 'Four Million.'"
Needless to say, O. Henry was a writer who was concerned with humanity.
If you want your heartstrings to be tugged, read O. Henry. If you want to read something uplifting or funny or beautiful, read O. Henry. If you want to entertain yourself with a story that reminds us what's really of import in life, read O. Henry. I think you get the picture...
O. Henry is often called the master of the suprise ending. I think that title is true, but it only scratches the surface. To me, he's the master of exposing the human heart, and in a way that isn't depressing. His stories are sweet, but rarely sentimental. Profound, but not highbrow. He was the common man's writer, and even a century after his death his stories still have something for everyone.
If you haven't read the stories of O. Henry, you should get on that. Here are some titles that are good to start out with and will give you a strong impression of his writing:
The Gift of the Magi A Retrieved Reformation The Purple Dress The Ransom of Red Chief The Marionettes(less)