With East Side tenements, Wall Street offices, and Fifth Avenue as their backdrops, these colorful tales by a master storyteller recount the dreams and passions of New Yorkers at the turn of the twentieth century. As O. Henry, William Sydney Porter (1862–1910) wrote more than 600 short stories, many of them situated amid the bustle of Manhattan. This collection presents 23 of his best, offering an abundance of wit and irony along with his trademark surprise endings.
Selections include "The Duel," in which the author explains that every transplant to New York City must either conquer or be conquered by the metropolis; "What You Want," an exploration of whether or not money can buy happiness; and "Proof of the Pudding," a test of the most realistic way to respond to bad news. Coincidence and fate figure prominently in these moving narratives, which are marked by their keenly observed details and peopled by memorable characters whose dialogue is rich in zesty slang.