Nine Stories (Anglais) Poche – 1 mai 1991
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En revanche, les méandres, les obsessions, le cynisme, le pessimisme, les "bizarreries" de Salinger: tout y est...
Les histoires n'accrochent pas l'intèrêt et finissent sans rebondissement.
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Salinger's skillful use of language is what distinguishes him most from his contemporaries. There is never a dull moment in a Salinger short story as this expert author intertwines detail and dialogue to convey emotion to the reader.
Although the short story leaves little room for character development, Salinger's superb style and careful use of language allow us to get to know his characters intimately in a very short period of time.
The stories included in Salinger's dazzling collection, Nine Stories, were published between 1948 and 1953 in The New Yorker.
They exhibit a unified tone and theme, something not usually found in short story collections. They are classic Salinger and classic stories; each one contributes to the volume as a whole and each is therefore enriched in its relation to the others.
Although people disagree on which story is best, each contains elements of the relationship between children and adults, one of Salinger's signature themes.
Two of the stories, A Perfect Day for Bananafish and For Esmé--With Love and Squalor, both feature protagonists (Seymour and Sargent X) who, as veterans of WWII, have sacrificed their psychological well-being and are no longer the men they once thought they were. Both feel alienated from life and, more importantly, from those they love. Both protagonists are searching for new forms of comfort and security in the respective characters of Sybil and Esmé.
Here, however, the similarities end. For Sybil lacks Esmé's insight and the final outcome for Seymour is very different than that of Sargent X and perhaps different than what it could have been.
In A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Seymour's wife, Muriel, goes to great lengths to reassure her mother regarding Seymour's soundness of mind, although Salinger carefully lets us, the reader, glimpse Seymour's paranoia.
Searching for the non-judgmental understanding of a child (but the love of an adult), Seymour befriends young Sybil, a child he's met on the beach. After realizing the impossibility of his desires and his own isolation, Seymour is driven to one last, desperate act, an act that makes some question his sanity while others will see him as finally regaining the control he had lost.
In For Esmé--With Love and Squalor, Sargent X also has a relationship with a child, but it is one that is quite different from that of Seymour and Sybil.
An intelligent and vivacious girl, Esmé lost her own father in North Africa and is quite aware of the horrors of war. When she approaches Sargent X in an English tearoom, she senses his isolation and resultant alienation and offers to write him, something Sargent X immediately agrees to.
Thirty minutes after their meeting, Esmé takes her leave of Sargent X with the words, "I hope you return with all your faculties intact."
Had it not been for Esmé, however, and the letter she writes, Sargent X would not have returned with all his faculties intact. Esmé's letter provides the one certain connection to reality and the constancy of day-to-day life that Sargent X needs. It both comforts him and reassures him that there is still some happiness out there to be found. At a time when the war has left him with nothing else to relate to, Esmé provides the needed link.
In this extraordinary collection of stories we find different people in different situations, yet a common thread of life runs through all, linking the stories to one another and to readers everywhere. This is only a small part of the genius that typifies J.D. Salinger. Read this book and I guarantee, like millions of readers before, you'll come back for more!
"The most singular difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a solid and joy a liquid," notes the narrator of the most liquid story in this collection, "De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period." It seems to me that line is a key for understanding Salinger's unique approach, as well as why so many people are put off by him.
Salinger's fiction doesn't read like anyone else's, especially when you move beyond "Catcher." "Nine Stories" is the most mainstream, and also most engaging and best-written, example of his Zen approach to fiction, both in substance and form. He was more interested in communicating feelings and inner perceptions than plots or even ideas, and this liquidity feels somehow wrong in the light of stories we usually read.
But these stories actually work quite well, not just in isolation but in tandem. The first and the last story, "A Perfect Day For Bananafish" and "Teddy," play off each other, a senseless death in one story being explained by the patient, precocious narrator in the other. What are represented in one story as "bananafish" and the other as "apple-eaters" are the grasping throngs of people, bad and good, who reach out for material delights and miss out on the greater, encompassing music of life, and the bookend tales take stock, in a wry yet deeply beguiling way, of those who hear that music and are isolated for it.
Witty yet sincere, funny but tragic, each of the stories hits you differently. Not all are bullseyes. "Down At The Dinghy" and "Just Before The War With The Eskimos" leave me a bit flat and suffer most from Salinger's disinterest in plot. But "For Esme - With Love And Squalor" truly deserves its reputation as one of the most searing and uplifting stories in American fiction, while "The Laughing Man" is my personal favorite as it details a doomed romance from the perspective of a child onlooker, with the ingenious device of a rambling campfire tale that sets you up for the big fall.
Salinger wrote fiction like no one else, as cosmic riddles (or "koans" as Zen Buddhists would call them) meant to engage one spiritually rather than intellectually. The literati may dismiss him, but he wasn't writing for them but instead for the lost people of his world, the girl with the big nose who stays in her room when guests arrive or the quiet guy who lives with his mom, telling them that they are loved and in a better place than they know.
It's true Salinger took this approach, in later works, to where it became harder to read him, and less rewarding. But "Nine Stories" is the distilled essence of his vision in perfect digestible form, an episodic novel of people at crossroads in their lives coming to terms with their places in the cosmos. If he flushed his brilliant talent down the drain following this muse, "Nine Stories" shows he at least did so with the best of intentions.
I bought this book in the summer of '68 when I was just out of the Army and could not yet walk. I read it all three times and most of it more than that before I took up another book. My most vivid memories of that summer are of the charicters in this book. Real people who I still recall after thirty years, people who I know better than some I live with now...
If you haven't read Salenger; I can't tell you what his work is like. The writing is completely unique. He is better than Steinbeck & Whelty and Heller at their best. Reading this is like seeing a color that you have never seen before. There is the feeling that the lighting is somehow different, fresher, clearer than before. Other writers can create a world that is dreamlike, but Salenger makes this world, the world we are in,seem like the dream. It goes beyond seeing with the eyes of the Characters. You are the characters. You don't just know their thoughts, you have their thoughts. It feels like watching Toby's sister drinking milk.
Ok,I can't articulate this. But 97 of us are telling you what you need to know. Buy this book. Read it. Drink it. Inhale it. Give it to someone you love. Press it in the dictionary of your heart.