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.
Skirt- Gift from Teeny
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...
...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.
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?