The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories by O. Henry

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Title: The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories by O. Henry

Premise:

This is a collection of short stories by O. Henry.  It includes “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Cop and the Anthem,” “Springtime à la Carte,” “The Green Door,” “After Twenty Years,” “The Furnished Room,” “The Pimienta Pancakes,” “The Last Leaf,” “The Voice of the City,” “While the Auto Waits,” “A Retrieved Reformation,” “A Municipal Report,” “A Newspaper Story,” “The Ransom of Red Chief,” “A Ghost of a Chance,” and “Makes the Whole World Kin.”

My thoughts:

I read this book specifically for “The Gift of the Magi,” a Christmas story.  The book is so short, though, that I decided to just go ahead and read the entire thing.  A couple of the stories were familiar to me (“The Last Leaf” in particular), though I can’t think of where I would have heard/read it before.  Overall, I really enjoyed the book.  Most of the stories were well-written, clever, heartfelt, and several had twist endings.  Henry’s writing is challenging to read, so you’ll want to keep a dictionary at hand.  You will certainly expand your vocabulary!

You should know that there are three instances of the n-word in this book.  I believe they are contained in only two stories, but in any instance where an African American is included in a story, they are talked of in a condescending way.  For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone younger than an adult.

I recommend The Gift of the Magi to adults who enjoy short stories.  Most of the stories in this volume are satisfying reads.

Possible Objections:

  • There is a general air of condescension towards African Americans
  • Outdated/offensive racial language (3 uses of the n-word)

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

moveable-feast

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I want to challenge myself to read more biographies and autobiographies, so A Moveable Feast is a step in the right direction.  It’s a memoir by Ernest Hemingway.  I haven’t read much else by him, but I will be doing so now.  His writing style is interesting and he’s a master at making you feel like you’re a part of the action.

Premise:

A Moveable Feast highlights the early part of Hemingway’s life, when he and his wife lived in Paris as a young couple.  It talks about writing, food, alcohol, friends, love, sex, reading, art, marriage, horse racing, skiing, and some of his now-famous friends and acquaintances.

My thoughts:

This was a fantastic book!  Hemingway’s writing style is very distinctive, so if you can wrap your head around it, you’re bound to appreciate his stories.  He has a way of drawing the reader into the surroundings and events he’s describing, so that you feel like you’re a spectator just looking over his shoulder.  I find myself wanting to explore the places he’s describing.

Hemingway’s way of life as a young man was so alien to me, and that is probably what made it so interesting.  The way he talked with friends; the food he ate; the alcohol he drank; the things he did in his spare time–they are all outside of my own world experience.  I love learning about what life is like for other people.

I had no idea that Hemingway was friends with such well-known people as Picasso , T. S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It’s neat to get a little peak into their social lives and realize that in a way they were regular people just like the rest of us.

It would be helpful to know some French when trying to tackle this book, but you can get by without it. Some of the place names, food, and drink will be lost on you.

I recommend this book to older teens and adults who are looking for a good biography of Ernest Hemingway.  Though the stories only pertain to his younger years, you get a good sense of his character, motivations, and a fascinating look into his life.

A Favorite quote:

“’We’re always lucky,’ I said and like a fool I did not knock on wood.  There was wood everywhere in that apartment to knock on too.” (p. 42)

Possible Objections:

  • Some bad language (SOB x 1, etc)
  • Sexual-themed talk (an STD, prostitution, homosexuality)

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori