For Esmè – with Love and Squalor by J.D. Salinger

I didn’t choose this book because of its cover. ForEsmeWithLoveAndSqualorOh no ! I am not as shallow as that. I chose this book because of its title, or rather one word in its title – Esme. I recently became a grandparent again and my granddaughter was given the name Esme. This name was chosen, in part, because it was the name of the midwife who helped in the delivery and also as it was a charming and pleasant name in itself.

I had never met an Esme before and didn’t know anything of the origins or history of the name. Because of this, and as my son and daughter-in-law were debating whether this would be the first person in our family to have an accent in their name (either Esmè or Esmé), I was seeking information on the name. During this I discovered this collection of short stories by J.D. Salinger.

J.D. Salinger has rather fallen out of favour of late and, were it not for “Catcher in the Rye” he is rarely on reading lists now. This is a great shame as this collection of short stories  will be overlooked by many people.

This book is a collection of short pieces. They are almost too short to be called stories and are little more than conversations between people. They are interlinked by their characters and the theme of the manner  in which adults and children interact. The writing is simply superb.  The dialogues are real and almost audible – you can hear these characters in your head, their accents and intonations – and the descriptions allowed me (who has no relationship to either the time or the place they are set) to be there and to understand.

This is a writer at the peak of their form. Though small these are not slight works and I must thank Esme (or Esmé or, perhaps Esmè) for having a name that led me to discover them. I’d advise you to do the same.


3 thoughts on “For Esmè – with Love and Squalor by J.D. Salinger

  1. I haven’t looked at that book in many many years. I will have to check it out again. I love the name Esme, by the way, accent or no accent.

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