Chloe's Reviews > Nine Stories

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
70078
's review
Jan 28, 10

bookshelves: fiction, classics, short_stories, i_am_in_love
read count: a lot

I was sitting at my cube farm today, moving numbers from one spreadsheet to another, cursing the internet tracking that keeps me from daytime Goodreading and daydreaming of pixies and unicorns when I received an email from my wife that utterly rocked my world. ":( Salinger's dead," read the short missive, and with that my world grew a little more gray. Normally news of celebrity death does little but placate my immense Schadenfreude, but Salinger's death is a serious blow to me and I feel compelled to emote all over my computer screen (don't worry, I have tissues).

Who remembers the moment when they first fell passionately in love with reading? I'm not talking about when you realized that reading was enjoyable, or a good distraction from your family, or a great way to spend a sunny day in the park. I'm talking about when you realized that this was it: life could throw anything at you and, as long as you had reading, you could cope and move on. That rather than simply entertaining, your world could be expanded and fleshed out by what you glean through a page- that this great human fuck-up can best be understood by placing yourself within the head of strangers and seeing the world through their eyes for a time.

I can chart the exact instant this thought struck me- when I first finished reading Salinger's Nine Stories, particularly the utterly heart-breaking "A Perfect Day for Bananafish." To this day this book is still my favorite of his limited oeuvre and a surefire contender for Top 5 favorites of all time. While he is deservedly renowned for Holden Caulfield's teen angst, it is the subtle pathos of Nine Stories that marks him as an author without equal.

The alienated Seymour Glass, who I always pictured as a stand-in for Salinger himself, and his tragic inability to connect with anyone but young children. The prescient Teddy, whose thinly-veiled Buddhism came years before the Beats began reading Suzuki. Esme, Charles and the damaged Sergeant X- all three of whom I feel an unceasing tenderness for. The idolized Chief and the heartbreak of Mary Hudson. All of these stories I can return to again and again, myself changed by the passing of time, and find something new and rewarding to take from them. Whether it is his absolutely perfect dialogue (I know of no other author who so accurately captures the rhythm and cadence of speech), his impulse (need?) to include a death in nearly all of his stories as if to remind us that even imaginary friends can get hit by buses, his endless attempts to put into words the passive disconnection from the rest of humankind that we all, at one point or other, feel overwhelmed by. There is more literary merit in this slim volume than the whole New York Times bestseller list.

I've often harbored the dream of hanging out in Salinger's tiny New Hampshire village and somehow attracting the eye of the reclusive author- carrying groceries across the street or some such menial chore. We would get to talking and he would offer to read some of my meager works and, wonder of wonders, offer a few words of advice. You know, Daydreaming 101. Sadly this will never be. If there is a bright side to this tragic passing, it is that hopefully he’s been writing feverishly for the past 60 years and his estate will begin posthumously publishing. This is the only real kind of immortality available, and hopefully Salinger's words will be read for centuries to come.
27 likes · Likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Nine Stories.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Stephen Moving. You loved him.


Moira Russell I'm talking about when you realized that this was it: life could throw anything at you and, as long as you had reading, you could cope and move on. That rather than simply entertaining, your world could be expanded and fleshed out by what you glean through a page- that this great human fuck-up can best be understood by placing yourself within the head of strangers and seeing the world through their eyes for a time.

Yes, yes. This is fantastic.

I hope for posthumous publication too. I think it depends on who his literary heir is -- his son might not do it.


back to top