A Thousand Flappers and Hobbledehoys

My name is Doug Wykstra, and this is some of the stuff I've read and watched.

Nine Stories: Review

I always forget how precise a writer J.D. Salinger is. American literature seems to be split between the wordy and expansive (Faulkner, Morrison, Whitman) and the minimalist (Hemingway, Dickinson, Carver), but Salinger seems to somehow split the difference: if his sentences use more words than seem necessary, they also seem to have the Carver-esque gift of hitting right on a point or detail you hadn’t considered, but which upon re-reading seems absolutely essential.

The principal subject of Salinger’s stories seem to be of a generation so shaken by war that they retreat into childhood. This is an interesting and often-overlooked subject–we seem so determined to remember WWII as a glorious enterprise that we often overlook the catastrophic damage it performed on a an entire generation–but it also limits the stories in important ways, reducing the characters to arrested-development cases or children in adults’ bodies. It’s not fatal, and yet I weirdly feel like the John Cheever short stories I read (and, at the rate I’m reading them, will finish reading around 2022) have a more mature understanding of this generation.

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Nine Stories

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This entry was posted on 24 October 2019 by in Elegant Extracts and tagged , , .
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