William's Reviews > Nine Stories

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
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Jun 18, 2010

it was amazing
Read in June, 2010

I really did like all nine. The writing's great, of course. The dialogue, especially. Although it gets kind of old when Salinger speaks too much from his own voice--I'm assuming the voice is his own because it keeps coming up in all that he's written. I'm sure you all remember the way he says something and then repeats it the next sentence with the prefix 'I mean.' I mean, I'm sure you all remember the way he says something and then repeats it the nextg sentence with the prefix 'I mean.' Like, half his characters do this. I mean, like, half his characters do this. It's a unique linguistical feature and when it shows up in so many characters it's really kind of like, "Salinger, I'm not so much interested in you as I am your characters. Even though your daughter and your girlfriends' memoirs are on my to-read list." Certain points just pop up and you're like, "Oh, this is a break in the story. This is the part where Salinger takes a moment to say something of his own desire."
But that's ok. I think he explained himself in Catcher. He said a good author (I mean, Holden said a good author) is something who you'd want to hang out with. So the chumminess is my only complaint, and it's really more of a critique upon the hermit himself, not the characters.

What's great about these stories is that they leave a puzzle behind. They're really probably incomplete novels that J.D. has been working on the past fifty years. Take "Teddy". We've got a story here loaded with so much content that we don't see. There's the Leidekker assembly. Who are they? Why do they want to talk to Teddy? Well it's really amazing that J.D. puts us in such an amazingly interesting and specific context of this kid's trip on a boat home to New York. But in the end, we're still most interested in the kid. I don't mean he's just interesting, but we're really just diggin' his every move. We're trampling along beside him in everyway. Then there's the big kicker at the end.
There's a lot to be learned from Salinger. He puts in the right details about things so you know what's going on. Like when Nicholson is talking to Teddy, we know that other people are listening. That's important. I would have otherwise assumed perversion. But then I became a little more comfortable with Nicholson's relationship with Teddy. It was still antagonistic in a way, but it's pretty important to know that on the conscious level, things are strickly scientific--scientist and subject.
Salinger is obviously wrapped up in psychology. I'm not sure exactly what he thinks of it. Maybe he was born at the wrong time when psychoanalysis was just getting big and he got a bad wiff of it and never gave it a shot and wound up being a hermit in New Hampshire. But as I read Teddy, when Teddy has his head out of the porthole, I see that the rest of the boat emboddies his unconsciousness. And what do we see outside of the porthole? The vast ocean--achetypal mystery. We're looking at the isolated mind. And Salinger gives us a lot of tools (maybe toys) to play with as we navigate the psyche. There are the oranges and the Adam's apple. Well, there are some other things, but I kind of forgot them for now.
"Teddy" really was my favorite.
"Banana Fish" was good, too, and it really had captivated me the most until I read "Teddy". It also has something of a puzzle ending.

Catcher is such a straight forward book. It isn't packed with too many tricks. The symbols are there, but they're not deceiving. That made these stories a little harder to put my hands around. They had a lot of trick endings that almost acted as pscyhological riddles or maybe even punchlines. There's a lot to think about, here, and I'm definitely going to go back and read some of these. A few I read drunk, a few I put down to sleep--these stories deserve more of my attention. I guess just in general it hasn't been a good time for me to read recently. My brain's not functioning so well and the task of reading is difficult.

The five stars this book is getting is for a few reasons: 1. because these stories are going to recapture my attention 2. because these stories are incomplete thoughts and perhaps published as intended to be so 3. they're great for what is there. I want more. I don't have much published Salinger left to read. I'll hold off on Franny and Zooey. I also might be rereading Catcher soon so I can write my unit plans.
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