|Digital List Price:||$9.99|
|Print List Price:||$12.99|
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Three Early Stories (Illustrated) Kindle Edition
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- File Size : 1890 KB
- Publication Date : May 12, 2014
- ASIN : B00KGL7KN8
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Devault-Graves Digital Editions; 1st Edition (May 12, 2014)
- Print Length : 74 pages
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #734,116 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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J. D. Salinger’s Three Early Stories are just that. They are the first three stories the budding writer published and the first we have heard from Salinger in 50-some odd years. Somehow these stories escaped being copywrited by Salinger or his estate.
Salinger himself was vehemently opposed to any of his stories being collected and republish so one can only guess that he would be a very unhappy camper with the appearance of Three Early Stories. It is somewhat meaningless now as Salinger is dead. Meaningless too, with the knowledge that his estate will be bringing out major works in the next five years.
Three Early Stories is something of an oddity. They are all written before the war with the first two appearing in 1940 and the third story in 1944. He didn’t make his arrangement with the New Yorker until 1948 and Catcher in the Rye didn’t come out until 1951.
The stories themselves are dazzling. These stories are not the work of an amateur. What has really impressed me is that the “Salinger” voice is already there. If you are familiar with his short stories about the Glass family, these first three efforts on his part will fit right in with stories he wrote in the late 50’s and early 60’s.
I can’t decide for myself if people other than Salinger fans will enjoy these stories. They are firmly rooted in the world before the war so they are a little dated but, on the other hand, there is a certain charm to that. I have no problem recommending them to you especially since there will be novel-length offerings coming from the Salinger estate in the near future.
The book opens with the author's remarkably self-assured first published story, "The Young Folks" from 1940. It recounts a minor episode in which two self-absorbed young adults fail to connect -- an experience that would become a signature interest of Salinger in his mature writings.
Next is "Go See Eddie," also from 1940, an augury of the writer's later fascination with his characters' secrets.
The book closes with a show of Salinger's sentimental side in "Once a Week Won't Kill You" (1943), whose protagonist is about to leave his young wife for service in World War II. The story addresses something described by Salinger's contemporary, Saul Bellow, as the condition of being a "dangling man" (in Bellow's 1944 novel of that name, Dangling Man (Penguin Classics) . This also happens to describe Salinger's personal status at the time that he wrote the story, on the eve of his own experience of combat in the war's European theater.
These stories are very brief, each filling about 10 pages in length in the book version. That's one-third the average length of the stories in Nine Stories , the collection of mature tales selected by Salinger himself as worthy of preservation. In fact, even the shortest story in "Nine Stories" is twice the length of the longest of the three "Early Stories." All in all "Nine Stories" contains nearly ten times as much text as "Three Early Stories." If you buy the physical book, its meager contents won't be evident at first glance. But when you hold it open in your hands, you'll find the text is printed on the right side only. Except for ten full-page illustrations by Anna Rose Yoken, the pages on the left side are blank.
Salinger situates the action in these stories entirely indoors, and conversation dominates. This imposes a "staginess" on the proceedings. The impression is of Salinger transferring to the written page the rhythms and gestures, both vocal and physical, of dramas he imagined unfolding on a New York theater stage of the period. None of the stories contains children, and for a reader hoping to hear the softer notes of Salinger's world, their absence will be felt.
Instead, darker notes are in control. Each reader must decide for themselves whether to forgive off-putting elements such as a cloying air of privilege surrounding most all the characters. Trio of male leads are moody and irritable. also, if you're familiar with Salinger's biography you know there's evidence he was not particularly kind to women. In that vein, these early stories contain a foul whiff of misogyny in the author's treatment of his female leads. There's no way getting around the fact that Salinger delighted in creating, and then dissecting, characters who are snobbish, phony, petty, none-to-bright, or of dubious morals.
Yet for readers familiar with the course of Salinger's writing, pleasure will come from detecting other, more glorious elements of his style, found here in early form. The book, small though it may be, confirms what Ian Hamilton wrote in In Search of J. D. Salinger, A Biography about the significance of these initial exercises: "[They] taught him to handle the mechanics of narrative with a technician's self-assurance."
Yes, from the very start the guy had the goods. There's the wizardly way Salinger propels his narratives through dialog -- arch, well-honed, slangy and character-defining. The most radical honing occurs when Salinger chooses to withhold from the reader one-half of a couple's conversation -- is there another author who can match Salinger's clever exposure of just one side of a telephone call that somehow tells the reader all you need to know? His use of misdirection means you will be surprised by a sudden turn every page or two. The "reveals" in the plots are perfectly placed. And don't drop your attention: when reading "The Young Folks," for example, remember to keep count of the cigarettes.
You could say that the details -- all those meticulously recorded habits and idiosyncrasies -- ARE the stories. In each of the settings characters yawn. They bite their fingernails. They smoke cigarettes pretty much all the time (the rituals of that habit are painstakingly observed). Relationships, whether they are between young singles on the prowl (in "The Young Folks"), or between brother and sister and between a young married couple in the other two tales, are fraught with insincerities and disappointments. All too often human beings are "bored or apprehensive, annoyed or resigned." Their nervous exasperation in life is summed up by one partygoer's effort to "try to get something better on the radio!"
The typeface used throughout isn’t that legible, deviating from the standard fonts used in books which are often more legible. It’s a bit too light for my tastes. Also, the text is doesn’t span the whole width of the page like literally all printed books do. It makes reading quite distracting for me. I wish it was typeset like a normal book.
There are some illustrations made specifically for these stories, and they’re fine. Not particularly inspired or inspiring. Just simple characters in a grayscale style. But they don’t particularly match the story. For example, “Edna was taller than Jameson and Jameson was shorter than Edna.” The illustration on the next page shows Jameson taller than Edna. Their height differential is in the text, and that not being the case in the illustration detracts from the text. So strange.
The stories give hint to Salinger’s more developed style to come, which I appreciate seeing these earlier works for, but they’re not substantial in anyway. They’re just the few stories this publisher could get the rights too.
I don’t think this book is worth the $12.99 I paid for it, and I wouldn’t recommend buying it. Read “Nine Stories” instead and wait for the Salinger estate to publish his works in the coming years. But if you insist on reading all the published Salinger you can, you’ll find three very short stories in a questionable package here.