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on 24 August 2017
Glittering, sharp, short stories which live in their dialogue, aided and abetted by brief descriptions of clothing and furniture - barely a word about what people look like, except to say that they are 'attractive' or perhaps 'sturdy'.

Contemporary creative studies tutors would - in theory - abhor this sort of 'telling', though the characterisation in conversation would win high plaudits.

It is remarkable - to me at least - how similar the sparkling, brittle writing style of Salinger (1919-2010) in these stories is to that of his much older, fellow American, Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940). Most of Salinger's stories in this late, excellent collection are concerned with rich and intelligent Americans - apparently the same world as that of Fitzgerald. However, Salinger is not focused on the love travails of 'bright young things', but instead is obsessed with adults encountering shockingly aware, truth-telling children (as in his too-famous Catcher in the Rye).

But - in stark contrast to the Lolita of Nabokov (1899-1977) - Salinger's children are precociously adult without any sense of sexuality. This is a strength and also a weakness.

Nevertheless, some of these beautifully exact stories - such as the opening 'A perfect day for bananafish' - must rank among the most concise and evocative short tales ever told.
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on 12 June 2016
This is probably the best of J.D. Salinger's writing. He had a reputation for being prickly - who wouldn't be when one's peace is constantly invaded by snoopers? He said if you wanted to know who he was as a man, read his work These stories are not long, but will benefit from several readings as the heart of each story reveals itself more with each read. Deeply feeling and tender - his delightful portrayal of children, the sorrows of young adults who have taken wrong turns, the desperation of those wounded in the soul - these stories are simply wonderful. If you have read his archived early work from the 1940s, this collections shows a striking change of focus and ability as a writer. I first read "The Catcher in the Rye" and "Franny and Zooey" in the 1970s and recently re-read them. This collection is a first for me and a book I would take to my desert island.
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VINE VOICEon 1 August 2011
This collection of short stories showcases the talent of JD Salinger at its very finest.

The stories are vividly and beautifully told, emotion is understated but tangible. The title story 'For Esme with love and squalor' is quite simply one of the most unforgettable stories I have ever read - it is infused with powerful emotion but also gentle humour. It's about a brief meeting between a soldier and a young girl - he's looking for simplicity and purity in a world gone mad, she's hoping to appear mature and worldly (but comes across as even more innocent and naive as a result). This chance encounter sustains the soldier later when his world is falling apart from the after-effects of the war.

The other stories are just as striking - particularly The Laughing Man and Teddy - they read simply, but pack a punch which is difficult to describe. That's the genius of it all.
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on 23 August 2016
I tried to get this in Kindle but it is only in print. It is worth getting it. One story in particular stays with me and I can still see the little boy peering into the sea through the port hole in his parent's room. Great, distilled writing.
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on 28 January 2017
The first story is a beauty and would work for all ages. All of these short stories have something very special about them, but some are dealing with such depressing things that I'd only recommend them for suicidal teenagers really.
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on 2 November 2017
Wonderful book. A must read if you are into short stories!
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on 20 November 2015
Heard about this on a BBC Good read programme. I didn't know there was anything else before Catcher. Surprisingly disturbing collection of stories. Very short so quick reads but a powerful punch.
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on 21 March 2018
Loved it.
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on 29 March 2015
Just go out and buy this. All wonderfully written provocative stuff. 'A Perfect Day for Bananafish' will blow you away, as will 'The Laughing Man. Buy it.
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on 16 June 2017
masterful storytelling. Very moving too. Maybe the finest dialogue writer I have read.
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