With his work, To Build a Fire, would Jack London be my choice over two other authors? With Devil’s Dictionary, would I prefer Ambrose Bierce over London and one other? Are William Sydney Porter’s, also known as O. Henry, works such as The Gift of the Magi, The Cop and the Anthem, and The Last Leaf, more enjoyable than Bierce’s or London’s? Which of three authors did I enjoy the most this week?
To Build a Fire was about a man who lived in a very very very cold climate. It was way below zero outside, and yet, he decided he needed to have dinner with a group of boys. He ventured out and began to freeze. Along with a dog, the man began to slowly freeze to death. Eventually the man wanted to kill the dog to make him warm, however that is not how the story would end.
I did not enjoy this story as much as I thought I would. Having no idea about it, I thought, To Build a Fire, would be about cavemen or someone who just happened to make a fire. Not this sad story. I still enjoyed it slightly, but it is not my cup of tea, honestly. That leaves two contestants.
Ambrose Bierce and The Devil’s Dictionary is just enjoyable, funny, and cynical. However, he is just funny if you do not know him and what his work is actually about. Bierce was a pessimist. He looked at the negative and stuck with it. He did not believe man could reform for good. He was a Darwinist. Meaning, he believed that man did not have a reason for his existence. That we are all here because we are a mistake. (Another time…maybe). However, when reading his work, I put that aside and tried to enjoy all of his funny definitions. I did. I laughed. And a few of the definitions will stick. However, I also could see his cynical side with some the definitions.
The Devil’s Dictionary is a dictionary of certain words. Bierce took regular words, but changed their meaning to something more comical or negative. However it is still funny to read. But not my choice to read in my free time. Though perhaps one day, I will.
That leaves Porter/O. Henry. He has a lot of short stories. Perhaps his most famous one, The Gift of the Magi, is my favorite. He took his stories seriously, making them believable and enjoyable. With some funny endings and in betweens, Henry makes his stories lovable and read worldwide. He was more positive with his stories than Bierce and London. He focused on love over pride among many others, but this is why I enjoyed his works more than the other two authors.