Nine stories is a collection of short stories written by JD Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey. It is in this collection where the Glass family, the main constituents of Franny and Zooey, is first introduced. In the next eight stories, we meet and get to know characters with an assortment of mental and physical ailments, and self-discoveries.
I really, really enjoyed this collection of stories. My favorites being To Esme – With Love and Squalor, The Laughing Man and De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period. A common thread through all nine stories is the mood of desperation, of frustration and of muddled identities. The characters felt very real, not idealized. They felt like real people with real issues starting to overflow into their everyday lives.
I found To Esme – With Love and Squalor to be a particularly haunting story about the effects of war on an individual. The ending of that story particularly stayed with me. It is so simply written, but packs so much punch and commentary on the state of war and the mental and physical drain it can take on an individual. From the one line note about a twitch on the face, to a shaky hand, the subtle differences from the first half of the story to the second half create an overall dreadful vision.
This collection of stories, like most of Salinger’s books, can and should be read over and over again. I know that the next time I read one of the stories, I’ll discover something new about one of the characters or catch a new allusion or reference. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of Franny and Zooey, I did find myself more interested in the Glass family in the story A Perfect Day for Bananafish, which starts off the book.
The stories are fairly short, 20-30 pages tops. The shorter stories were my favorites. So much packed into so few pages always amazes me. Salinger also had a gift of eloquently ending the stories. I felt satisfied at the end, but still wondering what would happen next. The stories weren’t abrupt or jumpy. There was an easy flow from one story to the next, nothing felt out-of-place.
Read the book in one go, or read one story at a time, either way, this book should be read.