Salingerís second book is a collection of his short stories which he
wrote prior to 1953 which were then put into book form.
This book was published during a very popular time in Salingerís
career. The Catcher in the Rye did not sell well when published
and met with mixed reviews, but Nine Stories became a best seller quickly
and was a critical success.
Many of the short stories in Nine Stories deal with the Glass family.
Salinger has written much about this fictional family, parents who
were moderately successful actors, who had a bevy of children who
ranged from Seymour, the oldest, who commits suicide in A Perfect
Day for Banannafish, Buddy, a younger brother, Franny and Zooey,
who have a book devoted entirely to them, and twin brothers about
whom less is written. The entire brood grew up as a precocious family
that have been described as non conformists by critics. The children
were all bright,and in Seymourís case, perhaps too bright. They all
served a stint on a tv show for precocious children as they each matured
to a point where they could participate.
The book contains two stories without the Glasses as protagonists,
De Daumierís Smith Blue Period, and Teddy, in which Salinger tries
to show that mysticism may not be the solution to todayís problems.
Although Salinger leaves the interpretation to the reader, many critics
agree to this premise.
Salinger investigates throughout the stories the attempt
to find satori, which translates (as closely as I can best determine)
to enlightenment in English. In some cases Salinger lets the character
in the story successfully find fulfillment through the mysticism
presented. In other stories, the character is not so successful, and
at least one story ends with a suicide. Another contains an
attempted suicide or murder (I am not sure which takes place), and in
another story, a long time friendship breaks down.
This book is one of the lesser know of Salingerís works but contains
many of his most critically successful stories.