I met O’Henry long back – if you consider reading someone’s writing as meeting. I kept on meeting him time and again, but never read him enough to fall in love with – if you kindly allow me to use the expression. But I had definitely marked him for further exploration.
The other day I was at Crosswords. I picked up ‘Hound of Baskerville’ and ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ – my favorite books. Then I saw ‘Best of O’Henry’, paid the bill and came home.
No, I could not read O’Henry in one sitting. His writing is not of that kind. O’ Henry makes you smile and weep, he shocks you and surprises you, he makes you anticipate and when you turn the corner you reach an unknown, never thought of destination. O’Henry at times is humorous and he indeed is subtle and philosophical. O’Henry should be labeled as courageous and straightforward writer – he writes for himself. He is passionate and also dispassionate. O’Henry entertains you and he provokes you. He brings out the best and the worst in you – he acts like a mirror!
Is O’Henry predictable? The moment you feel so, like a magician he presents a new trick and overwhelms you. O’Henry makes you chuckle and makes you think. Mind you, he makes you nervous and builds up stress. He takes you ‘inside’ the characters and gives you freedom to feel and interpret differently. O’Henry’s sarcasm is real and his language is elegant. He creates passages for introspection and he makes you uncomfortable. You cannot read his stories just one after another. You get so much involved in the stories that you pause, think and then (sometimes willingly and sometimes reluctantly) travel with the author. Sometimes you get angry with him for ending the story in a particular way. I warn you that all his stories are not about happiness, the canvas is real enough to entail pain and suffering.
O’Henry was born and brought up in U.S of A. He passed away in 1910 leaving behind 600 short stories as his legacy. O’Henry represents a different period and hence a different world. But like all great artists, his appeal is universal. I am tempted to quote various examples from his book, but I won’t do it here. I want to you to search and find beauty of O‘Henry yourself. I assure you that he is superb.
What are you waiting for? Take out your wallet, visit a bookshop, embrace O’Henry and enjoy your Deepavalee vacation.
Happy Deepavalee to all.