Favorite story from this compilation: "The Fourth State of Matter" by Jo Ann Beard. It's from her book The Boys of My Youth. I added it to my to-readFavorite story from this compilation: "The Fourth State of Matter" by Jo Ann Beard. It's from her book The Boys of My Youth. I added it to my to-read list. I enjoyed the few by authors I already appreciated: Alice Munro, Haruki Murakami, Richard Ford. A decent selection overall....more
The first time I read this I was fifteen or sixteen years old. I remember enjoying it, but not being as impacted by it as I was by The Catcher in theThe first time I read this I was fifteen or sixteen years old. I remember enjoying it, but not being as impacted by it as I was by The Catcher in the Rye. Reading it again at age twenty-three, I'm not sure how the story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" didn't resonate more strongly with me previously. Just in one story there are so many possibilities. My interest in Salinger may spin out of control now....more
Despite the title of the collection, the family depicted in this collection of short stories doesn't seem all that insane to me (at least in comparisoDespite the title of the collection, the family depicted in this collection of short stories doesn't seem all that insane to me (at least in comparison to the insanity I know). The most "insane" tendency within the family is to be "stupid" when it comes to marriage.
All of the stories are very short--some not even two pages--and so it was a quick, enjoyable read. There were some aspects that I couldn't relate to very well because they seemed unique to the Armenian community or to the family in question, but it didn't take too much pleasure out of it as a whole considering how brief these parts were.
I'm tempted to attribute the stories I wasn't particularly fond of to the editor's poor choosing. For example, I was puzzled why the collection ended with a letter from the author which was obviously not intended to be published and which was quite out of place with the theme of the stories included.
The stories, for the most part, remained interesting to read, and some were quite humorous, such as "The Duel," in which a boy in need of someone to duel--but unable to think of anyone he might consider an enemy--asks his cousin to find out who he hates for him.
My favorite story was "Gaston," which was about a six-year-old visiting her father for two days. Upon finding a bug within a peach, the father changes his daughter's view of reality so that she goes from wanting to squash it to wanting a peach with a "person" of her own. Within a few moments on the phone, however, the girl's mother undoes the bond, and there remains a distance between father and daughter as he escorts her to the car waiting to take her back to her mother. Its simplicity made me sad.
I read this because Holly read and didn't like it. She found the stories confusing and wanted my opinion. Overall, the stories were more than decent--I read this because Holly read and didn't like it. She found the stories confusing and wanted my opinion. Overall, the stories were more than decent--better than the average, but without being especially memorable. (It probably didn't help any that I've read a lot of short stories lately and was prepared to take a break from them for awhile when Holly pushed this collection on me.) I didn't have much trouble understanding the stories after the first one, which made more sense to me in retrospect once I grew accustomed to the writing style. Most of the stories have to do with interracial sex or people resisting the urge to engage in it. The characters, ranging from teenagers to a Vietnam vet, are mostly strung out on drugs or recovering. In the last story, "Necessary Angels," a fourteen-year-old girl (very willingly) has an affair with an eighteen-year-old black man, which leads to pregnancy, which leads to abortion. As a collection, they complement each other well, but it didn't stand out to me in particular, not on a personal level at least....more
I wish I could give this book two different ratings--obviously for the two drastically different stories. As it is I have to settle for subtracting aI wish I could give this book two different ratings--obviously for the two drastically different stories. As it is I have to settle for subtracting a star from the 5-star rating I would have given this if it had been "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" alone.
From a sense of charity alone, I'd give "Seymour: An Introduction" one star. When other reviewers advise skipping it, they aren't kidding. Not only is "Seymour: An Introduction" a tedious, unpleasant read, but it's the pretentious sort that does more than imply that there's something wrong with you as a reader if you have any qualms with it; you just don't "get" it.
The narrator, Buddy Glass, talks more about his love of Seymour than he talks of Seymour. Pages are devoted to doting on the greatness of Seymour's poetry, which is never included. Buddy is just so in love with his own opinions, and with his brother's greatness. He includes notes Seymour had written in response to Buddy's short stories. "My brother was such a genius. Need proof? Here's what he said about my writing." Maybe I'm interpreting it as being more egotistical than it is, but regardless, it seems one step away from posting his grocery list. (Perhaps it's amusing only to me that these notes remind me of the ones Salinger's daughter decided to include in her memoir. Both were bad decisions.) However, there is one letter from Seymour among these notes which gives a much appreciated break from Buddy Glass and all of his old man rambling.
It didn't take long to realize I wasn't going to enjoy reading it, but I soldiered on simply for a sense of closure. It had some value, but only as a resource for those researching Seymour and/or the Glass family. I happen to be engaging in such research, but I still found reading it to be an overall miserable experience.
Don't get me wrong. Do buy the book. Just read "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" and call it a night. It was actually one of the most enjoyable Salinger stories I've read, which perhaps sets "Seymour: An Introduction" up to be even more of a disappointment. You'll learn far more about Seymour in it than in the story titled after him, and you won't have the same urge to give up on literature altogether. The inclusion of Seymour's diary entries gives a glimpse into a side of Seymour and Muriel not apparent in "A Perfect Day for Bananafish."...more