Thursday, July 26, 2007

Maybe Salinger just isn't my thing.

I finally finished J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories tonight. Okay, so to tell you the truth, I'm not a big Salinger fan. I read Catcher in the Rye in 9th grade and remember feeling vaguely disappointed at it, after all the hype. I've never tried it again since, so maybe I'd like it better now, but I'm not sure.

So, going into these stories, I wasn't certain what to expect. I've read over a couple of them more than a few times. And, you know, while I enjoyed most of them reasonably, I wasn't crazy over them. I even did my own quick online research to see if maybe I was missing something in the interpretation, and perhaps that would heighten my enjoyment. And you know what, hearing perspectives of what these stories are about and how we're supposed to interpret them, sure, it makes me feel a little more intellectually stimulated, but I must say, maybe I'm just not a Salinger kind of person. I feel a little stilted in his worlds, in a way I'm not quite sure how to make of. Also, I kind of... didn't care about most of his characters and what was going to happen to them. I'm not sure why. It wasn't that they were boring, or that the situations were boring. But for some reason, the awkwardness of all the characters made them... uninteresting, if not unsympathetic. I guess this goes back to Catcher in the Rye and the fact that I was just never that into Holden because he was just too strange for me. So it's a matter of taste, I suppose.

Of all the stories, I think I liked "The Laughing Man" best. I like the fact that it's told with the voice of many years having passed, and yet it is still the recollection from a young boy's perspective. Thus, the nature of the guy and his relationship is viewed through his prism, and so doesn't take the front seat, but is more readily paralleled by something the boy does understand at the time - these stories. I felt this story was a much faster read for me than the others.

The last story, "Teddy" is a lot more heavy-handed than the rest. I was actually surprised to see the amount of philosophizing in this story, with this precocious 10 year old at the helm. In that sense, I found the story interesting, just to hear him spin his theories, but again, I'm not sure how invested I was in the character itself.

I liked the first story, only because I felt the whole "bananafish" episode was sweet in contrast with the sudden tragic ending.

I didn't like the "Uncle Wiggily" story. Could two women be anymore annoying? I mean, I suppose the banality of their lives is somewhat the point, but I seriously could barely stand them.

I can't deny that these stories have merit as works, but I guess the endpoint is, many of them just aren't my taste. From a literary standpoint, I see the importance, but I guess it's not one of those things I would read again and again and again.

Okay, Moonrat, I know you're ready to cut me down a few notches, so fire away.

2 drops:

moonrat said...

For me, the beauty of the stories is what's missing--Seymour. I think the stories in themselves are just stories, but that together they create a complex portrait of grieving and the inability of innocent genius to cope with the illogic and moral disaster of the modern world and all of its cruelty. All the Glass children are exceptional, and yet all of them have been torn apart and pushed off the deep end because they can't find answers for the problems of war and death. I think, in the end, the most compelling stories are about the war and how it undermined an entire generation by depriving it of any hope for goodness and purity.

Chainz said...

I tried to get through 9 Stories. I wanted to like them so much. But I just didn't really care about the stories. They didn't pull me in; they didn't interest me. Although after reading Moonrat's explanation, I might have to gave them another look.

Now while I didn't like 9 Stories, I did love Catcher in the Rye. Holden's voice is so irreverent and it cracks me up (at least in the beginning - it does get a little old after a while). Maybe there are more like it, but when I read it, I thought it was so fresh and real.

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