Bret James Stewart's Reviews > The Complete Works of O. Henry

The Complete Works of O. Henry by O. Henry
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really liked it

This edition is nice because it is complete. The introductory material about O. Henry and his works provides a good overview of the author and his work, and the historical/literary context is important in enhancing the reading of the stories and poems. O. Henry did, indeed, write poems, though he is known for his short stories.

The poems are okay, but I prefer the stories. The surprise ending is a well-known and oft-cited feature of O. Henry’s work, and many of the stories do have this. After a while, I came to be able to anticipate the ending, which is not surprising considering the size of the text, during the reading of which, one is able to grow comfortable/familiar with the style. I particularly liked his western stories and the ones set in South/Central America. His work was contemporary, and the stories result in a nice “snapshot” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and I suspect many readers will appreciate this feature—this is one of my favourite time periods to read about as the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society naturally results in “growing pains” for those involved. A major consequence of this transition is the move from country family farms to the city, and this trope is well represented here. Another thing I enjoyed was the assumptions about the social aspects of the time perhaps best represented by the courtship and marriage rituals he describes. These seem very archaic today, but I find such things fascinating. O. Henry has a strong sense of humour, sometimes heavily cynical, but still approachable for all that, and most of his tales include it to some degree. He uses a lot of words the modern reader probably will not know, so keep a dictionary at hand. Overall, I appreciate O. Henry, and I feel that taking the time to read this collection was worthwhile.

As a note, I would point out that this is a big volume of work written with small print. This is marathon reading. With poems and short story collections, I recommend reading one or two at a time so that they don’t all run together. This keeps the works “fresh” and allows breathing room for the reader. I also think this will enhance the experience as each story can be approached more individually rather than as part of a sequence.

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Reading Progress

August 30, 2014 – Started Reading
August 30, 2014 – Shelved
October 11, 2014 –
page 200
11.82% "Nice work so far. I like that O. Henry make me look up words."
January 18, 2015 –
page 300
January 31, 2015 –
page 500
February 13, 2015 –
page 600
February 20, 2015 –
page 600750
February 20, 2015 –
page 750
April 5, 2015 –
page 800
April 17, 2015 –
page 900
April 25, 2015 –
page 1100
May 8, 2015 –
page 1200
May 22, 2015 –
page 1200
May 22, 2015 –
page 1300
June 11, 2015 –
page 1350
June 19, 2015 –
page 1450
June 26, 2015 –
page 1500
July 10, 2015 –
page 1550
July 24, 2015 –
page 1620
August 6, 2015 –
page 1640
August 18, 2015 – Finished Reading

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