A couple of months ago, my book club read Raymond Carver’s book of short stories, Cathedral. Since a couple of us are particular fans of short fiction, I suggested we look at Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger. I read it years ago, despite not liking Catcher in the Rye.
When we got together, the other members really shook the naivety out of my younger self’s reading. I remember being amazed at the stories, written in beautiful prose, about things that just never seemed to turn out well for the people in the stories. I was genuinely hurt when Seymour shot himself in “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” The members of the book club seemed to agree that he deserved no better. What I had understood to be innocent play on the beach, they saw as a pedophile grooming a victim. Wow! What a difference perspective makes.
I still like the stories better than I did “Catcher,” but I’ll never see them the same way again.