This book is essential if (a) you've ever read Salinger, and (b) if you love short fiction. These tales brought him to the top of my list of favorite short story writers. He is able to paint exquisite pictures of people with their words and mannerismns, often needing little else to move story's narrative. What I particularly enjoy is his occaisional touch of humorous irony that is sometimes reminiscant of John Collier (known more as a poet than short story writer, many of his stories turned up on ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS and some even on TWILIGHT ZONE). Salinger, for the most part, provides much stronger endings than are popular with today's slice-of-life short fiction. They are often surprising and always thought-provoking. I may be old fashioned, but I believe this is how short stories should be written--and it's how I try to write mine.