Book Review: The Four Million by O. Henry
“’Tis a weary thing to count your pleasures by summers instead of hours.”
First published in 1906, this collection still resonates with wit and insight. Each story ends with a twist, usually but not always pleasant. Even knowing its coming, the reader is rewarded with a surprise.
“The almanac lied and said spring had come. Spring comes when it comes.”
O. Henry loved New York City every bit as much as Walt Whitman, if not so poetically, though the NYC they heralded may be as distant as the hanging gardens of Babylon.
“Gabriel had played his trump; and those of us who couldn’t follow suit ….”
O. Henry loved words: big words, French words, slang words, puns. His stories are a verbal fuselage. Modern electronic readers will find themselves seeking help deciphering his prose.
“In Soapy’s opinion the law was more benign than Philanthropy.”
Over a hundred year old, this story reflects some attitudes now discarded. O. Henry seemed to love his neighbor, even if he expresses himself in a manner which might set modern teeth on edge. (You’ve been warned.)
“We can’t buy one minute with cash; if we could, rich people would live longer.”
Sadly, it will become possible soon to buy organs, not from other people but from carefully constructed 3D printing, to replace many of your own – so you can live longer. If you have the money, of course. And you can buy 24 hour care, which helps. So the average lifespan is subject to money.