Book Review · Books · Fiction · Short Stories · Summer Reading

What I’m Reading: Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

SDC11269copy copy


Salinger is a writer who all writers want to be when they are young and first starting out. He has an incredible ear for dialogue and an eye for observation that takes many writers years to perfect. And, more than anything, his work is free of the shackles of mawkishness.

In Nine Stories, Salinger has written a series of shorts that are, like the author himself, complex; humorous and tragic, expressive and aloof. And yet, Salinger is great at what he does because his work comes from a place of honesty. Each story has a laidback sensibility to them and Salinger creates a wonderful collection of enlivened characters. The one thing that stands out about Salinger’s writing is how he excels at creating smart, natural dialogue, which can often be a bit beguiling to the reader, especially when they are delivered by children, but even when it is delivered by them, it’s refreshing.

There is a deep sense of the author’s movement into exploring vulnerability through the theme of innocence, which can be seen through the lives and experiences of children such as in “For Esme with Love and Squalor” and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”. Of relationships he ventures into more spiritual depths about life and death in a way that is typical of the human journey. He writes about war, passion, loss and heartbreak with an openness that is free of judgment, and he seems to desire a return to a life of simplicity, a life full of balance, virtue, and honesty. Salinger observes as a writer who is very impartial. As he writes about the lives of people, whether they live in and out of the cities or the suburbs, he writes about them without bias. He is non-judgmental; he writes what he sees as opposed to what he assumes.

There is also a sense that behind each story there is a feeling of emptiness, that what writing Salinger’s core self is someone who is often consumed with want, particularly of intimacy. A lack of intimacy seems to destroy innocence in some way, often by death or dishonesty, common predators of innocence. Salinger never outright tells you how he feels. Desire is aloof, it hides behind wit and disappointment or it gestures towards a grand ending that is possibly too simplistic for some readers but all readers can agree that his works are neither banal or cliché by any measure.

All in all, Salinger’s Nine Stories is a book filled with sincerity and heart.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka





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