Sunday, August 13, 2017

Book review: Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

I always manage to find an intriguing read at the church fair and this year was no exception.

A Perfect Day for Bananafish was recommended in an online article I read recently. And it is included in this collection. In fact, it is the first story in this collection. This is my only complaint. Not that I didn't enjoy reading it, I did. Simply because it casts a certain hue on the rest of the stories.

It's plain to see, especially in stories such as Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut, J.D. Salinger ability to develop young adult characters. An ability that is utilized to great effect in his young adult best-seller The Catcher in The Rye

First published by Little, Brown in 1953 and again in 1965 (with subsequent printings by Modern Library in 1959, and Bantam in 1964 and 1981), some of the language and attitude is dated but the underlying messages in the stories are timeless.

Favourite Quote...

'The worst that being an artist could do to you would be that it would make you slightly unhappy constantly.' -from the short story De Daumier-Smith's Blue Pencil

If you enjoy reading this book, you may also enjoy Stone Mattress and The Path of Most Resistance. I did.

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
published by McClelland & Stewart (2014)

In this nine story collection, the grand dame of Canadian literature writes for her age cohorts. I was delighted to discover that many of the stories were written about writing. In Alphinland, an aging author finds comfort from her lonely reality in the world she created. In Revenant, a senior poet dies but lives on in his world. In Dark Lady, the poet's female muse deals with his death. In The Dead Hand Loves You, an elder horror author confronts the toll his fame has taken on his relationship with three decades-old friendships. Torching the Duties is a horror story set in a manor house for the elderly. In Stone Mattress an elderly woman finally takes revenge on the man who sexually assaulted her. Lusus Naturne and The Freeze-Dried Groom don't feature senior protagonists. Both fit into the horror genre.

I closed the book with an increased respect and passion for short stories.

The Path of Most Resistance by Russell Wangersky
published by House of Anansi (2016)

The first story in this collection--Rage--is a work of genius. The ending draws from the story--everything points to it--and yet it surprised me. Having written all of that, if I had to choose, I'd say Farewell Tour was my favourite story in this collection.

On the whole, I'm impressed by Wangersky's mastery of description but puzzled by his sparse dialogue--both internal and external. It's like he's afraid to allow his characters to speak.

photo by LDyck

Sometimes endings are very hard to write...

Last Saturday I took Bim to the vet for the last time. He was still young at heart but his body was failing him. 

photo by LDyck

Most dogs love bacon and cheese. But some of Bim's favourites were tofu, tomatoes, and dried cranberries. A born showman, Bim and I worked out a dance routine involving shake-a-paw and jumping over my legs. He supported my author journey--never missed a meeting with my beta reader and enjoyed attending writers' group. In fact, he'd go anywhere if it meant that he could sit on my lap. Friend or foe he usually greeted in the same way--a little growl. His growl was less about stay away and more about notice me, I'm here. He was a mighty dog in a small package.

It was my honour and privilege to care for Bim in his twilight years.

photo by LDyck

We were only together for two short years but he wagged, licked and cuddled his way deep into my heart.

photo by LDyck

If you're thinking about adopting a dog, I'd highly recommend visiting your local animal shelter. There are many wonderful dogs waiting for you.