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J.D. Salinger (Bloom's Modern Critical Views (Hardcover)) Hardcover – April 1, 2008
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From Library Journal
Like Prentice-Hall's "Twentieth-Century Views," this new series, "Modern Critical Views," attempts to present the best criticism available on selected contemporary authors. The two volumes under review each contain nine previously published essays, many by prominent critics: the Salinger volume includes work by Alfred Kazin and David Galloway (The Absurd Hero in American Fiction, 1966), while Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Penn Warren, and Linda Wagner are among the contributors to the Dickey volume. Arranged chronologically, the Salinger essays provide a sweeping view of Salinger's critical reception; the Dickey essays would have benefited from such an arrangement. Both collections explore a variety of issues, many so specific that a familiarity with the author's work is necessary. For this reason, they will not readily serve as introductory works but will be more useful to teachers, graduate students, and advanced literature majors. William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The accounts offer students an opportunity to absorb serious analytical styles."
"A publishing venture almost without precedent both in its scope and in the fact that it is guided by a single critical intelligence."
"Harold Bloom adds some fantastic critical literary guides, providing interpretations and issues that should reach a wide audience from adults to young adults at the high school and college levels."
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Ah, how I wish such plot summaries and character lists had been around when I was assigned to read short stories in high school. It would have saved me lots of time wrestling with making notes, figuring out what I wrote, and connecting the dots.
The book's main limitation is that it only covers six stories:
"A Perfect Day for Bananafish"
"Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut"
"The Laughing Man"
"For Esme--with Love and Squalor"
"Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters"
For someone who published as little as Salinger did, it seems strange not to include more stories. My guess is that the criticisms of the other stories left even more to be desired than these criticisms do.
Many people don't either "get" or "like" Salinger's stories. Some find them to be too dated (being deeply rooted in their time and mileau rather than attempting to be more timeless and universal) while others don't like his philosophies. Doesn't writing, itself, count for something? These are amazing fictional works that will invade your mind never to leave. The craft behind the language and story telling is immaculate.
These criticisms are mostly superficial in the extreme. I would have never written a book review if such essays had been my model for commenting on writing because I would have been embarrassed to focus on such trivial points. Harold Bloom doesn't seem to like them very much either, noting "The Critical Views excerpted in this volume rarely abound in perceptiveness . . . ."