Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Perfect Day For Banana Fish

The first real grown-up book I ever read, was J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories. As the name implies, the book, in many ways more worthy than his more famous effort and high-school syllabus staple, The Catcher In The Rye, contains nine short stories, each of which is as perfect as they come, save for a couple where Salinger's trademark sentimentalism takes over a little strongly.

My favorites among the stories at the tender age of eleven or twelve, were Just Before The War With The Eskimos, Teddy and A Perfect Day For Banana Fish. It maybe worth noting that in two of these stories it is apparent, or as in the case of Teddy implied, that one of the two main characters dies.
One of the universal Salinger-themes is innocence and its loss, because many of his favorite characters are children, such is the case in both Teddy and Banana Fish and the protagonist of War isn't much past her preteens. I believe that this understanding of the volatility of the world must be, at least in part, at the heart of The Catcher's enduring popularity.
Perhaps that is why it caught my attention and kept me reading. It certainly wasn't the first non-kids book I had ever read or had read to me, but it was definitely the first "literary" work  I had read in my young life and reading it, I could feel my mind expanding.

                                  Blouse-Barter Fair
                             Skirt- Gift from Teeny
                            Cardi-local consignment
                               Hat-Barter Fair
                          Scarf-Gift from Nicole
                       Epic Earrings-Gift from Nicole
                             Banana Fish Bag- Cloudshaped on etsy

It is worth noting that the collection marks the beginning of Salinger's preoccupation with Eastern religions, Buddhism in particular. While Teddy is an outright introduction to the theory of reincarnation,  Banana Fish, introduces Seymour Glass, a member of the Glass family, that Salinger later (both in this collection and his other notable works Franny and Zooey and Raise High The Roof Beams Carpenters and Seymour, An Introduction) uses for a number of parables, if you will to illustrate and explore his spiritual beliefs.
It is interesting to look back on the things that made us who we are, discover new meanings from our past memories and loves and experiences. While it was fallowed by Steinbeck's The Pearl, To Kill A Mockingbird, Moby Dick and many others, 9 Stories  opened the floodgates for me. There was no more distinction between grown-up books and kid books. I could read anything. It left an indelible mark on me.

Which, I guess leads me to my sartorial point that I don't know much that makes me happier than carrying a bag with the line: "I imagine you have seen quite a few Banana Fish in your day". It's the little things in life that contain a million bigger things.
Right before it got stormy and we got colds, just minor ones though nothing like last year, Kettu and I went scavenging for sticks on the beach.
And marveled at the million little things the ocean carries to us. Chased at sand fleas, picked up countless vary-colored pieces of plastic, sticks and rocks...
IMG_1366 IMG_1378 IMG_1380
...the variety of shapes and colors of driftwood...the ominous sky...
When we got home, there was a package from Nicole which contained endless beautiful things, a little piece of California warmth and another million meanings. I know I always say this, but it was the best yet.

IMG_1246 IMG_1382

Better than most anything I loved the words. Receiving beautiful things that suit you just right is amazing, gratitude inducing, but exchanging words, written, full of connection really fills me with love. Thank you. I hope mine lives up to this. 
I'd be curious to know about what books have left their mark on you? And what was the first real grown-up book you ever read?


  1. When I opened my computer today, I was a little fed up. After reading your words and enjoying these pictures, I have to say I feel a little warmth returning to my heart and a smile playing on my lips. Thank you Milla!
    As to the book(s) it has to be The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R Tolkien, I really have to read them each year and each year I find more hidden within his words. It seems as I unfold the books open up a little more to me.

  2. synch! i must have been typing you a message while you were posting. i so badly want to walk on that beach with you! xoxoxo

    p.s. i think Watership Down was the first squinty print book that left a big impression on me. i still have my little old soft and yellowed second hand paperback copy on the shelf now...

  3. oops, was signed in on a different account. this nicole and that one above are one and the same

  4. Hello,

    Just wanted to say I am enchanted by your writing, your photos and your sensibilities. Found you via a search for Sampi culture and couldn't resist reading other postings. My first grown-up read was the 60s equivalent of 50 Shades of Grey. Angelique and the Sultan. Ha! How could I ever forget all that ripping of diaphanous veils. But my latest best read will appeal to you, I'm sure. It's The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, by Wade Davis (2009) explorer-in-residence for the National Geographic. Let me know how you like it, one day.

  5. beautiful. that beach never fails to make me ooh and ahh. your bag is perfect and your gift from nicole looks amazing. speaking of gifts, thank you so much for the one you sent with missa for me! what a joy it was to open and such a total surprise! i have my charm around my neck next to my miraculous medal and my grandma's wedding diamond. i never take it off so around my neck it will stay and remind me of you :D

    the first grown up book i read was o pioneers by willa cather. i also remember reading the old man and the sea. the first book that really caught my attention though was to kill a mockingbird. i read that when i was 15, not a child anymore but it made me realize that actually did enjoy reading. that same year i read some amazing books- pride and prejudice, the merchant of venice, parts of moby dick and walden. the last book i read that really made an impact on me was east of eden. steinbeck is my favorite.

  6. I think A Tale of Two Cities was perhaps my first grown up book... I love it and was somewhat obsessed with Dickens for my early teenage years. Another book that left a deep deep impression on my young (an present) life was Willa Cather's My Antonia. The beauty of the language in that book breaks my heart every time I re-read it... I love reading all the responses to this post. The impact of books on our lives, especially when we are growing up is so very important. Thanks for the reflection!

  7. Maybe Tess of The D'Urbevilles? I loved that book. Later, when I got to read it again at University, I understood all of the freaking great subtleties, that i didn't as a kid. Such a great book. the sea moves me like no other. there is nothing that compares to the sound or the smell of a fresh and stormy day's sea. Thanks for the peak into sumptuous stuffs from Nicole.

  8. Vaikea kysymys, Sieppari Ruispellossa on ollut ensimmäisten joukossa,samoin Kafkan linna,Kerouak,Dostojevskin Rikos ja rangaistus,Ian McEwan... Joo ei ehkä mitään kovin kevyttä;-)

    1. ai niin ja joskus 12v luin haudatkaa sydämeni wounded kneehen ja Darwinin lajien synnynkin joskus silloin,mutta kafkaa siis jo ennen...Kahjo lapsi:-)

  9. The first real grown up book I read was Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It blew me away. Before it I had not really been into reading....after it I just couldn't be stopped!

  10. I didn't read J.D.S until I much older, college actually, but still, he blew me away. I love his work and I love reading about his odd character and hermit tendencies. Franny and Zooey and Nine Stories are among my favorite. I reread them often. That banana fish bag I need. Like, Really, Bad.

    The first book that set my brain on fire was the Diary of Anne Frank. I was a child when I read it, but indefinitely older when I finished it. As an adult, I can't seem to do it again. Weighs to heavy on me I suppose.

    Perhaps I was braver as a kid.

  11. Ooh, I love you.

    My first big girl book was... or I should say books, because I read White Fang and The Call of the Wild around the same time. I was eight, I believe. They're not children's books, in my mind.

    Those books opened my awareness to that wild part in us we usually only hope to touch, and spurred me to fall hopelessly in love with Alaska. I think it was the same for you, no? Your first introduction to Alaska?


  12. oh my love. first of can tote your kit along to the beach?!!! JEALOUS! a little cat frolicking on a misty mysterious shore is the stuff of my dream hauntings, and she looks to be having such fun! no worries of her running off? or is your island small enough or your home nearby enough that you'd be sure to find her? i am curious because i have dreams all the time of being with my cats in new places/situations and having to try to find them or keep them corralled and it's always quite a predicament. i would love to hear more about your kitty adventures.

    secondly, i dearly love the nine stories and all of salinger's works, and it is fun to briefly revisit them via your words. i am sad to say that i can't remember my first grown up book...the transition time is vague from anne of green gables to...jane koontz?!! ha ha, yes i did, i read every book by danielle steele and dean koontz in my early years. yikes! but i did read a lot of good classics when i was around 11 or so before venturing briefly into the gruesome land of commercial fiction. there was a lot of mark twain and bronte sisters mixed in to those teenage years too, so i guess i was keepin it real.

    love your bag and the colors and your scrumptious gifts. someday i want to take that rambly walk with you.

  13. Um, does Flowers in the Attic count? Haha, actually I don't remember my first grown up book either, it was probably something that was assigned reading in High School. I do remember reading Catcher in the Rye in hs and enjoying it, but the first book I remember really getting into in that literary mind expanding sort of way was Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. That was I think my first year of college so, age nineteen. As for books leaving their mark on me, after randomly picking up one of Jane Roberts' books from the free book exchange shelves in the little coffee shop Lucas worked at in Bodega back in the day, I became pretty obsessed with reading her Seth books throughout my 20's.

    I finally read Franny and Zooey with my book club last year (it was my pick) and I really wanted to follow it up with Nine Stories, but never got around to it. Now I'm feeling re-motivated to do so!

    WOW, another incredible Nicole package! Those earrings are amazing. I'm swooning over that second picture of you on the beach too, you're a gosh darn dream boat, my dear. I miss you!

    1. hehe.. the first book that popped into my head was flowers in the attic...

  14. I only read franny&zooey and for esme with love and squalor (which i think is nine stories) this year so it's nice to hear others talking about it. I didn't like reading at all until I was nine then I started to love it and have ever since but I cant remember what sparked this change. I did read Wild Swans at 13 and was left slightly traumatized by parts of it. So in a way that made me feel like I was reading a properly 'adult' book.

  15. honestly, I think the first "adult" book I read was either "the thorn birds" (tawdry affair of woman and priest!) or "peyton place" (also quite tawdry) that my grandma had laying around, when I was like 9... When I was 11 I read of mice and men quickly followed by wuthering heights and jane eyre and then my obsession as a 12 year old to read all of shakespeare... discovering anais nin & henry miller at 13... you've inspired me to do a book post! xo m

  16. Charlotte's web I think was my first or maybe The Borrowers. When I was little my treat when I was good was to be able to stay up late and read. It was the best! I live in New Mexico and am so far away from the ocean. I miss it dearly.Once again it was a pleasure seeing what your up to!