Saturday, February 4, 2012

4,000,000

I love everything about the works of O. Henry. The Four Million is a collection of 21 of his stories having to do with New York City (population: four million, at the time.) I like NYC for many reasons; one of them being that it's where my mother and grandpa were born. My grandpa was born two decades after this book was published.

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She had a habit for saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday things...

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Silent, grim, colossal, the big city has ever stood against its revilers. They call it hard as iron; they say that no pulse of pity beats in its bosom; they compare its streets with lonely forests and deserts of lava. But beneath the hard crust of the lobster is found a delectable and luscious food. Perhaps a different simile would have been wiser. Still, nobody should take offense. We would call no one a lobster without good and sufficient claws.

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A sudden fear seized Soapy that some dreadful enchantment had rendered him immune to arrest. The thought brought a little of panic upon it, and when he came upon another policeman lounging grandly in front of a transplendent theatre he caught at the immediate straw of "disorderly conduct."

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It was a day in March.

Never, never begin a story this way when you write one. No opening could possibly be worse. It is unimaginative, flat, dry and likely to consist of mere wind. But in this instance it is allowable. For the following paragraph, which should have inaugurated the narrative, is too wildly extravagant and preposterous to be flaunted in the face of the reader without preparation.

Sarah was crying over her bill of fare.

Think of a New York girl shedding tears on the menu card!

To account for this you will be allowed to guess that the lobsters were all out, or that she had sworn ice-cream off during Lent, or that she had ordered onions, or that she had just come from a Hackett matinee. And then, all these theories being wrong, you will please let the story proceed.

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True adventurers have never been plentiful.

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We are grown stiff with the ramrod of convention down our backs.

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He who has been denied the spectacle of a busy Manhattan broker during a rush of business is handicapped for the profession of anthropology.

1 comment:

  1. I love O Henry! The first story I ever read was The Gift of the Magi, and I was hooked. Thanks for reminding me that I have a book of his short stories tucked away somewhere.

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