Tag Archives: JD Salinger

Nine Stories (JD Salinger) – Review

Nine StoriesNine Stories by JD Salinger
Age: YA/Adult
Genre: Fiction / Short stories
Publisher: Little Brown Books, 1948
ISBN 0316769509
198 pages

Find this book at your local library 

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.

Franny and Zooey (JD Salinger) – Review

Franny and Zooey.Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger
Age: Adult
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Little Brown Books, 1955
ISBN: 0316769495
202 pages
Find this book at your local library 

College student Franny Glass un-expectantly drops out of college and moves back home with her parents and older brother Zooey in the midst of an emotional and religious breakdown. Under the pressure of his mother, as well as his innate brotherly affection, Zooey steps in and tries to make sense of Franny’s religious upheaval.

I think for people who loved the pomposity in A Confederacy of Dunces, this book will be a welcome addition to the bookshelf. I’m still not quite sure where I stand. This is the first thing of Salinger’s I’ve read sans Catcher in the Rye. From my research, Salinger’s collection of shorts, Nine Stories, primarily centered around the Glass family. The Glass family is a rather large collection of incredibly brainy children who make repeated, if not constant, appearances on a radio show, It’s A Wise Child. Franny and Zooey is a further extraction of those characters from Nine Stories.

Franny has gotten her hands on a religious book, and is seeking to find ultimate spiritual fulfillment, but the road she travels leads her away from her family, her friends, and her interests and hobbies. Zooey steps in to try to help her make sense of the process, and put her transformation in perspective.

I found both Franny and Zooey to be annoying, and pompous in the “I’m better than you and everything and everyone else is below me and far too boring to retain my interest” vein. I could see why Salinger created characters like this. The brainy children who can see through the mundane norms of everyday life. This self-proclaimed elevated status was a drudge to read through, particularly the scene with Zooey and his mother chatting in the bathroom. I was very tempted to just stop reading the book, I was so frustrated with the mother for not getting a hint. I was also frustrated with Zooey for his rude demeanor with his mother. I just found the entire character list to be unlikable, from Franny’s ordinary boyfriend, to Zooey’s child-actor ego, and their father’s obliviousness to anything negative in their lives. For me, there was nothing to balance this skewed view on society. The commentary seemed too one-sided with nothing to counteract the Glass children’s view on society.

Book 55 of 2011

This book was a selection from the Rory Gilmore Reading List