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.
Salinger was driven to an extremely private life after the release of The Catcher in the Rye, and subsequently became the world’s most famous recluse. Salinger was obsessively protective of his writing, going as far as to ensure that some stories remain unpublished until 50 years after his death, in 2060.
This summer, an independent publishing company, Devault-Graves, announced its release of Three Early Stories, which includes The Young Folks, Go See Eddie, and Once a Week Won’t Kill You. These stories have already been published in magazines between 1940 and 1944, but never within their own jackets. Would Salinger be upset? Most likely. Would purchasing the book and reading its stories flagrantly disregard a beloved late author’s wishes? I remain conflicted, though I plan to proceed. The release of Three Early Stories has inspired me to once again dive into Salinger’s work. That can’t be a bad thing.
This shall be a Salinger September.
Photo: The Story Factory