||The Birth of O. Henry
On this day in 1898 William S. Porter -- the drug store clerk, cowboy, fugitive, bank teller, cartoonist and future "O. Henry" -- began a five-year prison sentence for embezzlement. Porter had published several stories prior to his prison term, but the fourteen written behind bars represented a new style and quality, and began his rise to fame.
||An O. Henry Ending
On this day in 1910, O. Henry died in New York City at the age of forty-seven. His death from alcoholism-related illnesses was the farthest thing from a surprise ending, but his last months and hours were in other ways characteristic of the fiction: the down-on-his-luck hero, the small-detail-revealing-all style, the polished-perfect irony.
||Billy the Kid, by Ondaatje, O. Henry...
On this day in 1881 Billy the Kid was killed by his nemesis, Pat Garrett, at Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Near midnight, the Kid returned from an errand of love or hunger to find someone in his hideout; to his hushed "Quien es? Quien es?," Billy received a fatal shot above the heart. This was also the starting pistol for a fiction marathon which shows no signs of being over. . . .