This past winter, I had the pleasure of appearing on KLRU‘s show Downtown, a weekly exploration of the district that’s “as Austin as it gets.” My segment dealt with the writer William Sidney Porter, who went on to further fame as O. Henry after he left Austin. His time in our fair city was one of triumph and tragedy: Will Porter moved from a young man-about-town to married father to fugitive and convict.

My favorite source for all things O. Henry is a work of historical fiction, A Twist at the End, by Steven Saylor. Thanks to his meticulous research, Saylor’s story transports the reader to the very streets of Austin in the 1880s. We’re invited into the rooming houses, offices, brothels, and bars where Will lived, worked, and played. We learn, in exquisite detail, about the city’s first serial killing spree, a gruesome case never solved. And like so many of O. Henry’s writings, this full-length novel concludes with a surprise.

My Writers’ Ramble, a literary tour of Austin, includes stops in places meaningful to the life of Will Porter as well as other prominent penmen and women.

-HR

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