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Nine Stories Paperback – January 30, 2001
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In the J.D. Salinger benchmark "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," Seymour Glass floats his beach mate Sybil on a raft and tells her about these creatures' tragic flaw. Though they seem normal, if one swims into a hole filled with bananas, it will overeat until it's too fat to escape. Meanwhile, Seymour's wife, Muriel, is back at their Florida hotel, assuring her mother not to worry--Seymour hasn't lost control. Mention of a book he sent her from Germany and several references to his psychiatrist lead the reader to believe that World War II has undone him.
The war hangs over these wry stories of loss and occasionally unsuppressed rage. Salinger's children are fragile, odd, hypersmart, whereas his grownups (even the materially content) seem beaten down by circumstances--some neurasthenic, others (often female) deeply unsympathetic. The greatest piece in this disturbing book may be "The Laughing Man," which starts out as a man's recollection of the pleasures of storytelling and ends with the intersection between adult need and childish innocence. The narrator remembers how, at nine, he and his fellow Comanches would be picked up each afternoon by the Chief--a Staten Island law student paid to keep them busy. At the end of each day, the Chief winds them down with the saga of a hideously deformed, gentle, world-class criminal. With his stalwart companions, which include "a glib timber wolf" and "a lovable dwarf," the Laughing Man regularly crosses the Paris-China border in order to avoid capture by "the internationally famous detective" Marcel Dufarge and his daughter, "an exquisite girl, though something of a transvestite." The masked hero's luck comes to an end on the same day that things go awry between the Chief and his girlfriend, hardly a coincidence. "A few minutes later, when I stepped out of the Chief's bus, the first thing I chanced to see was a piece of red tissue paper flapping in the wind against the base of a lamppost. It looked like someone's poppy-petal mask. I arrived home with my teeth chattering uncontrollably and was told to go straight to bed." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
In my opinion, the best four tales were these: "A Perfect Day for Bananafish", in which Seymour Glass, older brother to Franny and Zooey, meets his destiny after a strange but tender and amusing talk with a little girl on the beach. "For Esme, with Love and Squalor", tells the amazing conversation between a young British girl and a soldier fighting in WWII. She is one of the most interesting young characters in Salinger's work, and the end is poignant and painful, but endearing. "De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period" is a wonderful satire of painters' autobiographies, a tale in a farsical tone. And "Teddy" is another small masterpiece about a young boy travelling with his parents on a cruise. This boy is a lecturer on reencarnation, and his talk with an older but still young guy is one of the most memorable pieces in modern literature.
The rest are also good, but didn't strike me as much as the others. In "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut" we see the emotional collapse of a young mother, as she talks and drinks the evening away with a friend from college, with the interesting appearance of her daughter, another weird but still normal Salingerian character. "Down at the Dinghy" is a short snap of another of the Glass girls talking with her shy but brave little son. "Just Before the War with the Eskimos" is another farce, a fight between two spoiled brats of Newyorker girls, and then how one of them discovers love, or at least romantic interest, in an unlikely guy. "The Laughing Man" is the most enigmatic of these tales. Finally, "Pretty Mouth and Green my Eyes" is just neurotic.
Christianism in its most unsuspected manifestations, the pains, agonies and glory of being a child or a teenager, people from the exotic New York, hidden longings and passions, all of this and more is the subject of one of last century's most penetrating and enigmatic writers. I wonder what he has been up to these last years.
The short stories are compelling and exciting, not only to you the reader but also to the kids listening to every word.
Though written in a slightly old fashion way, the stories feel just as modern as any other book. I particularly loved 'The Laughing Man' for its poiency.
This is a worthy addition to any book collection.
5 stars isn't about the content, but about the book arriving when it was supposed to and being the one pictured/undamaged.
But... JD Salinger writes amazing stories. These were some of the most enjoyable stories I read throughout all of my bachelors degree
If you don't read all nine no one will know, but it's worth finding the one that makes you happy.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a magnificent collection of mostly previously published short stories from an author in his prime.Read more