May 28th, 2008

9 Stories - J. D. Salinger

This is the kind of book you pick up and go, “oh, short stories”, look at the very slim volume, think “I need something meaty right now” and then put away. And then go pick up a few months later and start reading. After the first story grabs you by your shirtfront and drags you along and the ending leaves you breathless and thinking “wow”, you have to stop and think about what you just read.

The second story is the same way. The language just gets out of the way and the story sinks right into your psyche. As you get to the end of the story, you think “I have no recollection of what words were used, but by god, the characters…”

Words laid out one after another on a page. This is how a craftsman works.

By the time you get to the third story, you have slowed your reading down and are nervously looking at how little of the book is left. It’s more than three quarters, but it does not seem enough.

As you finish the fourth, you are seriously considering putting the book away and coming back to it later. You don’t want this to end. You want to be able to read more, and desire to be able to write stories that grip like that. You slow your reading down further, savoring each sentence.

It doesn’t work. The book ends anyway. But the characters, they live on, with their foibles and dreams and hurts, both fun and tragic.

Thank you J.D.

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