I have a warm place in my heart for O. Henry Stories. He is a master of the surprise ending; many of the stories leave you with a chuckle and an open mouth of disbelief.
One of my favorites is “Springtime à la Carte,” where a girl makes a living typing up menu cards for the restaurant downstairs but is heartbreakingly because her country love has deserted her. Or so she thinks.
I also like “The Skylight Room” and “The Green Door” because they have a touch of destiny and fantasy (and true love of course). “A Retrieved Reformation” is very touching, about the reformation of an ex safe-cracker. But picking a favorite is futile because every time I flip through the stories I remember each with fondness and a smile.
There is a distinction between the stories O. Henry wrote about the southwest and those about New York City. The NYC tales have an urgency and an urban desperation, and are very mute (being considerably third person). The southwestern tales are homey and grand and more developed. Take for example “The Pimienta Pancakes,” “Ships,” and “Whistling Dick’s Christmas Stocking,” whose plots take longer to develop and come from a specific character’s point of view.
According to The Literature Network, where you can find a solid collection of O. Henry stories to read online, in 1884 he started a humorous weekly called The Rolling Stone. I wonder if that’s where the modern magazine got its name.