Short stories are magical. I once read a quote, which I of course cannot find, but it called short stories “fairy tales for grown ups.” That has stuck with me for a while now, and it is absolutely true. Recently, I have been very into short stories and essays (see my post on EB White).
Yesterday, I read J.D. Salinger’s “A Girl I Knew.” To be honest, I saw one quote from this on tumblr and decided to read it. The quote was, “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.” The fact that I am a hopeless romantic aside, this quote immediately caught my eye because of its sheer casual nature. The fact that Salinger can incorporate such a big concept into such a seemingly passive sentence is just so brilliant. Salinger is known for his complex, but undeniably relatable characters, the most famous being Holden Caulfield (whom I admittedly hold a special sentiment for).
It is hard to tell someone’s story in such a short piece. It’s hard to tell someone’s story in a 500 page novel. I love the way that Salinger develops the character in this piece. Subtle comments like, “Taking this note out of Jack-the-Ripper German, it reads…” tell us how the character kind of, I don’t know, looks at himself. His lapses into English during his conversations in German with Leah show his nerves, his inexperience and his human-ness. So many authors struggle with capturing what real teenage interaction and feelings are like. I’m not a boy, so I don’t really know if this is how they think, but it seems very plausible and the way this boy acts is also normal.
If you haven’t read this piece, I would go now. Read. (also, if anyone wants to send me a copy of Nine Stories…I would not say no)– (I have a friend who has a first edition of it, which is pretty awesome).
read on :) (oh! and let me know what you think in comments!!)