Deal Me In Short Story #8
This week I drew the 4 of Spades, which corresponded to "For Esmé–With Love and Squalor" from the book Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger. As I explained in my post on another short story in this collection, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," I read most of Salinger's stories long ago. It is lovely to read them again and experience them anew.
The story opens with a man describing his encounter with two children, Esmé and Charles, in a town in Devon, England. The narrator is a soldier, and had just completed an invasion training course. Esmé offers to write to the soldier, and requests that he write a story for her. She suggests he make it "extremely squalid and moving."
The second part of the story is told in third person and describes Staff Sergeant X and his fellow soldiers, "in Gaufurt, Bavaria, several weeks after V-E Day." It is definitely very moving. Even before I started reading this section, with little memory of what it described, I became very emotional.
This story was immediately popular when it was first published in The New Yorker in 1950 and continues to be one of Salinger's best known stories. Before I started rereading the stories in Nine Stories, I did not know about Salinger's wartime experiences, which are thought to have influenced his writing. Reading this story and learning more about Salinger was a great experience. I will continue reading the stories in this book and find copies of the two other books containing novellas by Salinger (Franny and Zooey and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction).
Every other week I draw a random card to determine what short story I will read for the Deal Me In Short Story challenge. My list of short stories is here. The challenge is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.