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The Gentle Grafter

O. Henry

Book Overview: 

If Jefferson "Parleyvoo" Pickens had appeared in print just a few years later, he might have been the "Gentle Grifter" instead of the "Gentle Grafter", the name O. Henry picked for him. His situation as an ethical graft artist gives Jeff an extra impediment in pursuing his craft, but he never wanted it to be too easy. The result is fourteen delightful tales for us and a number of new partners for him. With those partners (he always has at least one) he works his way through a number of confidence games. Some they win, some they lose, some go into extra innings. They seem never to end just the way you figure they will. In the end he conquers almost all, except for the English language, which often seems to defeat him.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I had a kind of cerebral sensation of foolishness in my ideas of ratiocination; but I pulled out the little brick and unwrapped my handkerchief off it.

"'One dollar and eighty cents,' says the farmer hefting it in his hand. 'Is it a trade?'

"'The lead in it is worth more than that,' says I, dignified. I put it back in my pocket.

"'All right,' says he. 'But I sort of wanted it for the collection I'm starting. I got a $5,000 one last week for $2.10.'

"Just then a telephone bell rings in the house.

"'Come in, Bunk,' says the farmer, 'and look at my place. It's kind of lonesome here sometimes. I think that's New York calling.'

"We went inside. The room looked like a Broadway stockbroker's—light oak desks, two 'phones, Spanish leather upholstered chairs and couches, oil paintings in gilt frames a foot deep and a ticker hitting off the news in one corner.

"'Hello, hello!' says this funny farmer. 'Is that th. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A collection of short stories about grafters who travel, peddle and swindle in the South. Those grafters have different business ethics and moral senses, and their artistic plots lead them to an unsuspected but comic ending.

A great disservice has been done to O. Henry by anthologists who seem incapable of reading beyond his most hackneyed, sentimental pieces. In his best pieces, his colorful use of vernacular and his ability to capture the spirit of his times is wonderfully entertaining.

If your opinion of O.Henry i...more

It took me the longest time to finish this, even though every time I picked it up to read a chapter, I enjoyed it.
As a fan of Jerome K Jerome I would recommend this. Entertaining and funny, I shall look out for more of his work. And hopefully it won't take me as long to finish.

ENTERTAINING SHORT STORIES.

“ ‘Drink,’ says Andy, ‘always drives me to oratory.’ ” —The Octopus Marooned, (p. 6).

O. Henry has long been my go to guy whenever the bill of fare calls for highly entertaining, terrifically well written short stories. The Gentle Grafter is a collection of fourteen suc...more

There is a wonderful irony in O Henry’s short story collection, The Gentle Grafter (Kindle edition). Almost every American has read The Gift of the Magi. It has become a cultural meme. A warm hearted story of loving and gifting. These are also warm hearted stories of con men and grafting. Think o...more

I never saw so much double talk in my life. It’s a work of art.

The master of the surprise ending tells tales of grifters Jeff and Andy and their "Scams Across America" tour...perfect reading for this political season!

The collected tales of bunco artists and fourflushers. Full of those delightful Archie Bunker-esque mis-speaks like the 'casting of Persians'. These characters are all charmingly stoic in their winsome and loosesome attitudes. So eat, drink and be leary!

ENTERTAINING SHORT STORIES.

“ ‘Drink,’ says Andy, ‘always drives me to oratory.’ ” —The Octopus Marooned, (p. 6).

O. Henry has long been my go to guy whenever the bill of fare calls for highly entertaining, terrifically well written short stories. The Gentle Grafter is a collection of fourteen suc...more

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