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Nine Stories Mass Market Paperback – CLV, May 1, 1991
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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."
―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
- 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
- Best Sellers Rank: #19,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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You might also try reading Franny & Zooey. It is about youthful existential angst, but avoids self-indulgent prattle for the most part, and really drives home the degree to which IQ's are currently dropping.
Top reviews from other countries
Like many fellow readers I had only heard of Salinger through The Catcher in the Rye and I happened upon this book after doing some online research.
For Esme - With Love and Squalor, and The Laughing Man are for me, outstanding examples of short fiction.
If you like Salinger and you like short stories then you will enjoy this book.
Frankly the stories were a disappointment. You know that feeling of satisfaction you get when you finish a good story? Well, it was absent for all nine of them.