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Monday, June 29, 2009

Nine Stores by J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger was in the news lately with his lawsuit over a proposed unauthorized sequel to Catcher in the Rye a book I read and reviewed earlier this year.  The stories about him getting crazier and more isolated in his time in New Hampshire have been most fascinating.  Yup that's what this frozen place does to you, but still a small price to pay to avoid income and sales taxes.

Nine Stories was one of the many gifts that the big box of classics from Ebay provided.  The headline story is A Perfect Day for Bananafish which I hated.  After reading this trite clunker I was tempted to write off Mr. Salinger's stories as trite, try too hard literature that was published because of the success of Catcher.  I couldn't have been more wrong, and not only because banana fish predated Catcher by five years.

I especially liked The Laughing Man and Down at the Dinghy which are great stories about when innocent childhood and the adult world mix.  Teddy is a story that has a mystical kind of sci-fi vibe and De Daumier Smith's Blue Period is a hilarious growing up story, if part of your growing up period was a little larcenous and liberal like mine was.  For Esme-With Love and Squalor was one of the best WWII short stories I've read.  For those alone I would recommend this book.
Some of the real gems however are the ones about upper middle class New York. Salinger seems to know what photographers and F. Scott Fitzgerald know.  Poverty makes us look beautiful even when you expect to find unsightliness, while wealth provides a background of opulence that highlights the ugly and tragic parts of ourselves.

poverty ugly

1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures - they show what you are talking about perfectly!


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