O Henrywm Sidney Porter

David Stuart, Author Scarborough House Publishers $19.95 (267p) ISBN 978-0-8128-3057-6
New York short story master O. Henry (1862-1910) spent much of his life tormented by shame over the three years he'd spent in prison for embezzlement in his mid-30s. Because of his paranoid obsession with concealing this secret, the fruits of his literary success were squandered on debauchery and blackmail, according to Stuart ( Alan Watts ). Such a life may well be worthy of serious study, but nothing very serious emerges here. Stuart's prose is pretentious--a drunken O. Henry is described as one who ``tasted too often the grape''--but the book's defects are not limited to pomposity. For instance, there is smug contempt for readers offended by O. Henry's racism: `` Autres temps, autres moeurs ,'' Stuart writes, ``and if the reader doesn't know what that means, then he ought to find another author.'' Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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