Yet what elevates O'Hara above slice-of-life portraitists like Damon Runyon and Ring Lardner is the turmoil glimpsed beneath the vibrant surfaces. O'Hara had a special compassion for outsiders and people on the skids. Richard Wright said that "Bread Alone," about a black car washer and his son at a Yankees game, was the only story about blacks by a white author he liked. "Pleasure" is an equally sensitive look at a Polish table-busser trying to stretch her dimes. The subtly arranged "Harrington and Whitehill" follows a blue-collar worker who makes it in elite Manhattan publishing but never altogether escapes his class resentments.
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