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Nine Stories Mass Market Paperback – CLV, May 1, 1991

4.7 out of 5 stars 610 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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."

Review

"The most perfectly balanced collection of stories I know...Nine Stories is a book I've gone back to at different moments in my life, and I always find something new. I've passionately loved different stories at different times, first 'Teddy,' later 'For Esmé--with Love and Squalor.' I could list all of them."
Ann Patchett, Parade

"J. D. Salinger's writing is original, first-rate, serious, and beautiful. Here are nine of his stories, and one further reason that they are so interesting, and so powerful seen all together, is that they are paradoxes. From the outside, they are often very funny: inside they are about heartbreak, and convey it; they can do this because they are pure...What this reader loves about Mr. Salinger's stories is that they honor what is unique and precious in each person on earth. Their author has the courage--it is more like the earned right and privilege--to experiment at the risk of not being understood. Best of all, he has a loving heart."
Eudora Welty, New York Times Book Review

Product details

  • Item Weight : 3.99 ounces
  • Mass Market Paperback : 208 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0316769509
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0316769501
  • Product Dimensions : 4.19 x 0.56 x 6.75 inches
  • Publisher : Little, Brown and Company; Reprint Edition (May 1, 1991)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 610 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
610 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on October 20, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on February 16, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2001
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Top reviews from other countries

Philip Reddy
5.0 out of 5 stars How to write short stories
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 19, 2020
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X654103
2.0 out of 5 stars These stories don't satisfy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 3, 2020
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B. G. Strand
5.0 out of 5 stars SNAPSHOTS OF LIFE in arrested moments
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 23, 2018
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Constant Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for short, quality reads.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 23, 2016
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oldmanroo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 21, 2018
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