Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nine Stories

J.D. Salinger's most famous work, undoubtedly is Catcher in the Rye.  I finally got around to reading that book, often considered among the very best of American literature, last year because, once again, my son had to read it for his high school AP literature course.  His class followed that up with a section on the short story form and used this book, Nine Stories, also by J.D Salinger, as one of their source texts. my usual fashion, I never like to have a book on my shelf that I haven't read so I decided to give these stories a try, reading them over the past couple of months.

I will say that I more or less "studied" The Catcher in the Rye as I read it, much like a student of literature would and my general feelings about it are not generally as good as most people's are.  It's not that it was a bad book and I can certainly appreciate Mr Salinger's writing skills.  It's just that I wasn't completely blown away.  Perhaps my expectations were too high going in.  So now when I approached this collection of nine short stories, I purposely set no expectations.  That wasn't difficult since I had never heard of this collection but nevertheless, I wanted to just read them as I would any other short story collection and try to enjoy each on it's own merit.

Overall, as in every other collection out there, I enjoyed some more than others.  Many are involved with the war, with soldiers who have recently returned and are trying to cope with what they saw.  Some have humerous aspects while some have downright horrific aspects.  Almost all of them had me scratching my head at some point and asking myself, "Where is he going with this?"  Ocassionally I was satisfied with the ending but more often than not the ending seemed to leave me hanging or send me scrambling back to the last page to see if I had inadvertantly skipped it.  Once again I appreciated his writing ability; he has a definite knack for letting you see a whole character with few words.  Somehow we understand a lot more about them than what is described for us.  I can see why a teacher would use this book as a tool for studying the short story form.  But having said that, I was reading for enjoyment, for entertainment, and while it was OK for that, I find myself preferring more plot-oriented stories.  The closest one of the bunch to that was the very last one, "Teddy" which was a very intriguing look at the nature of a young boy with an incredibly wise outlook on life and an eerily accurate ability to predict his own demise.

So if you like Salinger or classic short stories I would give this one a try but if you like a straight-forward beginning, middle, and end structural story you may want to skip these.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire