Even though O. Henry revels in puns and wordplay, period slang and colorful rhetorical exaggeration, he keeps his narrative voice intimate and confiding ... Given that Ben Yagoda’s excellent selection — emphasizing stories set in New York — reprints only two-fifths of O. Henry’s total work, it’s not surprising that some famous stories have been left out ... Still, the absence of this trio from the Library of America volume isn’t grievous but is simply an encouragement to acquire one or two additional O. Henry collections. Happily, these are readily available, both new and secondhand.
The book’s appearance in this distinguished series provides fresh evidence that, despite occasional skepticism from critics and scholars, O. Henry has secured a place in the country’s literary pantheon ... His body of work presents a challenge, though. Enjoying a story by O. Henry can devolve into a guessing game ... More than a century later, O. Henry keeps on getting the last laugh.
A treasure vault of work by a master of the short story form ... Yagoda’s well-selected anthology follows Henry through all his phases ... Most of the stories, Red Chief foremost among them, read as if freshly written, although there are a few dated ethnic categorizations and outright slurs. Overall, though, the volume provides ample evidence for why one of American literature’s most eminent literary awards should be named for the author ... Essential for students of the short story and for fans of Henry’s work.