Best Seller is a story by O.Henry which deals with the life of a business worker of a plate and glass company who believes that fictions are unrealistic. The story starts with the narrator traveling in a chair car on his way to Pittsburgh where he meets John A. Pescud, an old acquaintance.
Pescud had an aversion for best-sellers. He felt that the stories in best-sellers were all alike. The stories often had a girl and a boy from two completely different backgrounds, which did not normally happen in real life. He felt that in reality, a boy normally courted a girl who was somewhat familiar. He wondered why people bought best-sellers so much despite the fact that they never heard the same stories in real life.
John tells the narrator that he is doing quite well in life and tells him about his marriage to Jessie, a young girl with whom he fell in love and then followed her all the way to her hometown. He met her father, Colonel Allyn and told him how and why he followed his daughter right to her house. John mentioned his salary, prospects and his little code of living. John just asked for a chance and he told Jessie’s father that he would leave if he was not able to woo his daughter. It was in this meeting that John discovered Jessie’s father’s habit of telling stories.
This shows us that John was a hypocrite. He openly denounces best-sellers claiming that they are quite unrealistic. He believes that the stories involving a boy and a girl in the so-called best-sellers are a far cry from reality. But his own love story was akin to what was normally written in the best-sellers. He married a girl who was not from his own community or native place and hailed from an aristocratic family. This shows that John did not practise what he professed to believe in.
The story ends as the train reaches Coketown and John alights in order to get some petunias for his wife Jessie.