These nine short stories will appeal to those who enjoyed the dry observations, the grim resistance to adulthood and the honesty that encapsulated The Catcher in the Rye. Far less well-known, this collection is partly a reflection on an American society coming to grips with the aftermath of war; its characters include those who have been traumatised by conflict and those who have suffered at home through the absence of loved ones. More than that, Salinger's tales try to dig a little deeper under the superficial layer of East Coast society and ask where the distinctions between madness and innocence lie in a fractured community. His adults are often verging on lunacy or have a serious character flaw, while his children are frequently precocious, wildly intelligent and seemingly more worldy-wise than their parents: the clash between the two tends to cause confusion on both sides. Women are promiscuous, men are like children, children are like seers; each of these stories tells of a topsy-turvy world populated by figures wrestling within themselves for something more satisfying than their present existence. A brief collection but a valuable one; sometimes frustratingly enigmatic but with some excellent character sketches.
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