Fall



 

Fall, you’re already here. I feel like I just dropped my arm from waving farewell to August. September has been a stressful blur. For the past two years, I had a job that I did not like very much. I will leave it at that, not only because that line may be the best summary I’ve ever written, but also because the details may threaten my best attempt to keep it classy. After this month’s twists and turns, I have a new job lined up, and I am excited to begin rearranging the pieces of my life in the way that a new chapter requires.
 
I did read Salinger throughout the month as planned, though a bit sporadically. Let’s be real, life can get in the way of reading. But the benefit of short stories is that they accommodate sporadic reading, so I was able to get through many of those Salinger stories that I had never read before. I look forward to squeezing some reflections into October. I am also eager to get back on track with the books that were lost in the shuffle of this busy month. Good thing we’ve begun the season perfectly suited for some serious reading sessions.

 
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An Uncommon Education

“There was something about her manner that was sobering me up, and I remember thinking at the time that it must have been the sharpness of hate. Looking back, that’s the funny thing. I remember thinking she just hated me. It didn’t occur to me that such vitriol could have nothing at all to do with me, that such profound emotion must run far deeper than any single relationship ever could.”
An Uncommon Education, p. 271
By Elizabeth Percer
Published 2012

A Salinger September


 

I was predictably introduced to Jerome David Salinger as the voice behind Holden Caulfield. After completing the rite of passage that is The Catcher in the Rye, I met the Glass family in Franny and Zooey, and like many before me, I matriculated at the school of Salinger. I was lucky to be introduced to Franny and Zooey by an English teacher who guided her class through an intense and labored dissection of the stories, so that I was trained from the start to read Salinger’s work with extreme care. She taught us that even within the landscape of reading, there is a direct correlation between effort and reward.
 
I ventured into Nine Stories, Raise High the Room Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction on my own, and in due course re-read all of Salinger in varying degrees of frequency. A Perfect Day for Bananafish and For Esmé – with Love and Squalor, both from Nine Stories, along with Franny, remain my favorite.
 
Through Holden Caulfied’s adolescence, Salinger introduces us to one of his main themes: the competing interests between self and culture, or even, self and circumstance. As we further explore Salinger’s work, we quickly learn that the struggle goes well beyond teenage angst, and that his characters are fraught with deeply existential questions; questions not of the pretentious kind but of the wide-awake-at-3AM kind. The struggle can be terrifying, but Salinger gets that, and his characters respond in their own unique but Salinger-esque ways.
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