Media outlets are reporting that author J.D. Salinger, the Howard Hughes of authors, has died at 91.
Salinger is, of course, a fascinating figure; there are rumors or roomfuls of unpublished writings that he's stored since his last public work 45 years ago.
He's famous for Catcher in the Rye, but to be honest that book never did as much for us as it apparently has for every other misunderstood teen.
It's his short stories that we love. Here are five you need to read. (Some plot spoilers included.)
"A Perfect Day for Bananafish": If you read only one story about a guy vacationing in Miami who's about to commit suicide, make it this one.
"For Esme, With Love and Squalor": A tale derived from Salinger's World War II experiences, which hit him hard, to say the least. You'll never think of the word "squalor" again without thinking of this story.
Franny & Zooey: Officially a book of its own, it's made up of two short stories. Almost worth it alone for the description of how everyone tries to look oh-so-casual while waiting for someone to arrive via train (or today, by plane).
"Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters": More of the Glass family, the subject of so much of Salinger's writings. It involves the non-wedding of the guy who commits suicide in "Bananafish."
"De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period": Maybe the most outwardly comic of Salinger's stories -- which means you won't necessarily be ROFLing, but that's not why anyone picks up Salinger anyway.
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