Books, Learning, Reviews

The Thing’s the Play

As I mentioned last week, I am behind by a week in the Deal Me In Reading Challenge. While my original plan was to feature two reads here, here is the first one with the second to follow later this week. Today’s featured short story for Week 6 of the Deal Me In is O Henry’s The Thing’s the Play.

Deal Me In 2020

Deal Me In Reading Challenge

A Valentine Read: O. Henry’s The Thing’s the Play

Since I had to catch up, and it was Valentine’s Day last week, I used up one of my blank spots (the 10 of Spades) in my suit of cards with a short story I found after searching for romantic short stories. I found that the first one was too sad (I read it fully however and did enjoy it!). This is my second read – O. Henry’s The Thing’s the Play.

About the Author

O Henry has been one of my favorite authors since, well, forever, it seems. You will find him listed on many Top Ten posts on my blog, and I have (re)devoured his short stories from the first time I read The Gift of the Magi in a school text, oh so long ago. And one of my favorite short stories ever is his The Last Leaf.

O Henry was the pen name of William Sydney Porter, and his stories are known for surprising end twists. In an attempt to find out more about him, I did a little research and discovered many interesting facts. I have included some of them here:

  • he was trained to be a pharmacist, and spent many years as one (some of them while in prison)
  • O Henry was multi-talented: he sketched well; he played the guitar and the mandolin; he was also part of a men’s choir who serenaded young women
  • Maybe because of his sketching skills, he worked as a draftsman for a bit and drew maps for a living
  • His three-year tenure as a teller led to his imprisonment later on charges of embezzlement and fraud. He had tried to avoid this by moving to Honduras for a while. But he had to return when his wife became very ill and surrendered to the court.
  • He coined the term ‘banana republic’ during his time in the Honduras
  • And as for his pen name, there are many origin stories for that: the name of a girlfriend’s pet cat; the Ohio State Penitentiary; simply asking a friend to come up with an alias; and more.

My Thoughts

Scene One: Two decades ago: One beauty, two beaus:

Helen is a ‘prominent belle’ whose marriage to the love of her life is as short-lived as the wedding ceremony, thanks to the proverbial best man who professes his love at the wrong time. Helen spends the next couple of decades as Mrs.Barry, living in the apartment and running the store below the apartment that her mother left her.

Scene Two: Current (in the story), ie, two decades aka an intermission later:

We see her renting out two rooms to as the store’s business slows. This leads to two renters – two beaus – who are enraptured with Helen, once again. Who are they? And what happens next? Does life does come full-circle, indeed? Or does it not?

This is a galluptious read! And O’ Henry’s dry humor, those twists, all that irony, and the sweetness(!) of love all shine through in this story. And I should note that some of the details he adds, oh well, simply read it for yourself… that is the best way to experience it!!


Another O Henry winner of a read!

And Now, the End of this Post

Dear reader, have you read O’ Henry? If yes, do let me know your favorite O Henry short story? If not, you should read him!

1 thought on “The Thing’s the Play

  1. Thank you for sharing those interesting facts about his life. I honestly knew nothing about him other than he wrote a TON of stories and has a literary award named after him.

    This one sounds very intriguing and I definitely have to check it out along with The Last Leaf, which you speak of most highly. I actually read “The Skylight Room” for this year’s DMI challenge but it was mediocre at best. My favorite story by him is a toss up between “The Cactus” and “Gift of the Magi.”

    You have a great site and I look forward to reading more of your reviews!

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