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Comments Luther Magnussen
O. Henry Recommended Story Author

"Work and Industry in the Northern Midwest," an O. Henry Recommended Story

The brothel was built in the style of a fishing and hunting lodge, and had something of a large meeting hall where an elaborate dinner had been prepared for us. Since many of the Germans came from the so-called Schauinsland foothills, we were served, among other items, large platters of roasted horse meat, a thing all people from that region love. The party carried on for several hours, men disappearing from the dinner table every so often to follow a woman into one of the back rooms, and at two in the morning the German Workingmen were still carrying on the celebration with no intention of stopping. By this point, we were also using the cocaine I had brought. Unfortunately, though, one of the members of the club used too much, and, after trying to swallow what appeared to be an undercooked horse tendon, choked to death beneath a high-standing Hamburg sideboard as we were singing a very raucous version of "Come Hither Woman, Young and Supple."

To my surprise (because, after all, I was new among them), I was asked to sing Mahler's "Lied des Verfolgten im Turm" at the funeral, which I did with an enormous amount of emotion and intensity, and afterward we all went to a large Italian restaurant to discuss the tragic event and take comfort in each other's company.

"Work and Industry in the Northern Midwest" originally appeared in Yale Review. Copyright © 2008 by Luther Magnussen. Excerpted by permission of the author.





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