Sunday, May 02, 2010

Nine Stories

After re-reading J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zoe, I re-read Nine Stories as well. It begins with A Perfect Day for Bananafish, an at-first charming and mysterious and ultimately alarming little story about the eldest Glass child, Seymore, on a beach vacation with his wife. That story's shocking ending rather keeps the reader on their toes for the rest of the collection. I'm quite fond of The Laughing Man, about a young boy who idolizes this young man who's kind of like a boy scout leader that all the boys call the Chief.

I like how many of the stories have a little mystery that unravels, like Down at the Dinghy, in which the maid has said or done something she shouldn't have and doesn't become clear until the end. Or Teddy, the last story, about another young boy of preternatural intelligence or perhaps (no spoilers) something else? I think all the stories highlight Salinger's incredible skill in the realm of the short story, and how in a few short pages he creates such a rich landscape of history and language and suspense.

From Teddy:
"I have a very strong affinity for the them. They're my parents, I mean, and we're all part of each other's harmony and everything," Teddy said. "I want them to have a nice time while they're alive, because they like having a nice time... But they don't love me and Booper - that's my sister - that way. I mean they don't seem able to love us just the way we are. They don't seem able love us unless they can keep changing us a little bit. They love their reasons for loving us almost as much as they love us, and most of the time more. It's not so good, that way."

I mean, wow. You could just spend the next two weeks thinking about that handful of sentences, couldn't you?

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