First order of business, I must apologize. I got over ambitious (a common theme in my plan making process) and about 2 months before going live with this blog and about a month before finishing Infinite Jest I thought “I believe I will write a 5 part literary analysis of Infinite Jest as my first article series”. Such a nice thought. However after finishing the book two weeks ago, I’ve been left…stunned and a little disturbed. Infinite Jest is a big story. There’s nothing small about it. The story is so big even DFW admits “the story can’t fully be made sense of” and “does resolve, but it resolves… outside of the right frame of the picture. You can get a pretty good idea, I think, of what happens” which even if you believe the author is dead(1) (too soon?) this is still extremely intimidating. These intimidation factors aside, there are plenty and plenty of reviews written by people who are actually read(2) regularly and to top it there are books and books on analysis written on this book. This being said, I’m going to step back and take some time since there’s not much likely I’m going to write that hasn’t been thought-said-written several times over. So there’s no agenda on when, basically just when I have time and interest (I’ve already began re reading the book) and I’ll try to do something special to make my predictably unoriginal ideas more worth experiencing.
Nine Stories is a collection of short stories (SPOILER ALERT: There’s nine of the stories) by, the generally hated by high school students because Catcher in the Rye (I liked it then and now but I’ve always been kinda odd in my age group), J.D. Salinger. Salinger opens up with a rather famous koan “We know the sound of two hands clapping. But what is the sound of one hand clapping?” Each story sets up a relatively domestic scene: A beach vacation, a couple of girl friends enjoying an afternoon drink, a friend calling for some emotional support, just to juxtapose that with a startling ending. Some endings are disturbing, some are strange.
Overall the book can be read in an afternoon however as is the genius of a good short story is that there is much more to the story than just a shocking ending. Each story captures small moments artfully and depict characters much bigger than can fit on a few pages but if extrapolated further may loose some of their significance.
This was my first Salinger book since Catcher and I deeply enjoyed it and look forward to rereading it.
Nine Stories gets 4 power crazy celebrity game show executive producer J.D. Salingers out of 5.
Footnotes & Errata:
- The French essay “The Death of the Author” by Roland Barthes, not to be confused with the conspiracy that DFW is still alive writing under a new nom de guerre in order to escape the weight of IJ.
- I do recognize the few (it might actually be only three of you atm) of you who do read my stuff and FSM bless you and I love you and please keep reading. Thank you!