Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lunchtime read: For Esme with Love and Squalor and other stories

There is certainly something to be said for reading a large amount of an author’s work because it provides an opportunity to really discern the style, as well as providing a chance to pick out the best work. Salinger produces some great short stories when he mixes the classic elements of a great plot with strong characterisation.

Highlights from The Laughing Man

* A former boy scout is reminiscing about his days playing baseball, camping and having some after school fun led by a leader named the chief who entertains them in the bus before going home with tales of The Laughing Man

* The bus stories centre on a hideously deformed man who fights injustice and has some animal friends and wears a poppy mask to keep his features hidden - and the boys are addicted to the stories

* The routine is suddenly changed by the arrival of the chief’s girlfriend who starts playing baseball with the boys and starts attending their meetings pretty regularly until one evening when she suddenly turns up late and then cries and runs away

* That night the chief, obviously upset about the relationship tells the last episode of the Laughing Man with the hero choosing death after vanquishing his enemies and the impact on the boys is tears and silence as if they realise that they are mourning the end of a more innocent stage of childhood

More tomorrow…

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