This is a strange book
I see you’ve given into another Amazon impulse buy. Yep
Title: Nine Stories By: JD Salinger
Year Published: 1948
In a sentence (no spoilers, please): Quick, entertaining but odd fiction pieces which seem to be experimentations with characters and themes rather than just stories
Why did you pick it up? I’m a big fan of ‘The Catcher In the Rye’ and assumed this would be nine short stories in the same vein. It wasn’t.
When did you read it? Finished it just now
I’d probably agree with the friend who once told me I’m a starter-finisher when it comes to books. A habit which I think is good for book reviews but bad for general life. I only finished Nine Stories because I started it, it’s a habit I need to break. That’s not to say this is a bad read- it’s just weird. I can see how you could read this book and feel like you’ve completely missed the point- NINE TIMES.
Nine Stories is a page turner about how people (mostly unknowingly) impact one another emotionally, particularly in relationships between adults and children. I suppose this is the common thread with the exception of Pretty Mouth And Green My Eyes and De Daumier- Smith’s Blue Period. The former is an amusing brief exploration of a nervous man and his embarrassingly flirtatious wife- maybe the best story of the collection.
The first story A Perfect Day for Bannanafish starts off engagingly with a glimpse at the love life of a young woman and her vacationing family but has an abrupt, almost nonsensical ending- fairly common in Nine Stories. By The Laughing Man, you start to see a theme in the way the children are indulged in conversation to explore innocence and nostalgia. In For Esme – With Love and Squalor, the sergeant speaks to Esme as though she is a fully capable adult for the entire dialogue.
I wanted there to be an ‘Aha!’ moment where it all falls into place but it doesn’t really happen so I’d given up by the 6th story. The good news is the stories are really short and intriguing so it doesn’t kill me that I took time to finish it. The bad news is- as a collection this book barely makes sense! This book should have been called Welcome To Don’t Throw Away Your Notebook: The JD Salinger Edition
Salinger was brilliant at writing frantic, neurotic characters so Nine Stories is like reading a book about your own funny eccentric friends. You often get the impression that the author didn’t care whether you liked what you were reading or not, which is kind of endearing- and rude? These could easily have been throwaway story ideas written just to amuse himself and develop characters for another book. There’s no particular structure and stories just end- they just end.
This is a strange book.
Rating: 6.5/10 Colourful read but the stories can seem quite pointless.
Should I read it? This is almost nothing like Catcher In The Rye so if you are expecting that, then no. Do read if you are interested in the way Salinger thinks and writes. Otherwise probably best appreciated either read all at once quickly or picked up at odd times on commutes/ beach chills.
Maybe you’ll also like: Franny and Zoey by the same author
Pic from Carmela Alvarado site