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Short Stories by J. D. Salinger

Published: January 30, 2010

Five of J. D. Salinger’s short stories appeared the Post in 1944 and ’45: “The Varoni Brothers”, “Both Parties Concerned”, “Last Day of the Last Furlough”,  a “Soft-Boiled Sergeant,” and “A Boy in France,” which will appear in the July/August 2010 edition of The Saturday Evening Post.

In the April, 1944, issue in which “Soft-Boiled Sargeant” appeared, the Post included this small vignette about the early life of the famous, highly talented, and reclusive writer.

A Thin Slice of College

J D. Salinger at the ripe-on-the-bough old age of twenty-five regards himself as the dean of college failures, having been in the freshman class of three colleges but never having quite got into a sophomore class. The apparent reason for this was an allergy to elm trees and ivy.

Mr. Salinger finally overcame his aversion to academy life long enough to take a short-story course at Columbia under Whit Burnett, editor of Story, who published a story of Mr. Salinger’s in his magazine four years ago.

Soft-boiled Sergeant by J.D. Salinger

Soft-boiled Sergeantby J.D. SalingerApril 15, 1944

Previous to that successful foray into education, Mr. Salinger had breezed through the grammar schools of his native Manhattan and the Valley Forge Military Academy. He went to Europe at the age of eighteen to learn the Polish ham business from the sty up, and actually spent two months at Bydgoszcz (Polish pigs are fed a daily ration of szcz mixed with a little wcyz), where he helped slaughter pigs and drove by wagon through the snow with a big slaughter master who amused himself between slaughters by popping with his shotgun at sparrows, light bulbs and fellow employees. Both before and after this tenuous apprenticeship, young Mr. Salinger spent his time in Vienna. All of this was, of course, prewar.

Mr. Salinger now has the same number of stripes on his sleeve as his soft-boiled sergeant.

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  • Frank James Davis

    Adrian, I certainly agree. (That’ll be four bucks, please.)

  • Adrian James

    Great, but here’s the thing. We all know that the Saturday Evening Post was the cat’s meow back like in the 1940s (or ’20s, or ’30s, or ’50s). Look at “literary journals” and underground story magazines of today, and you’ll see that they don’t print those kind of stories. They print awful stuff, really dumb stuff. In fact nobody is printing the great stuff you used to run. If you want to bring that back, go all the way with it will ya? Get some great stuff like before. No one else is going with it. What have you got to lose? Go all the way with it, pay pro rates and buy up some excellent stories, pay a dollar a word or whatever and start attracting true talent. That’s the way to relevance. Why not give it a try?

  • JGP

    Like many a master, he was at times brilliant and at times, yes, over-hyped.

  • Frank James Davis

    I think Salinger was an American master–of disguise. A hero of hermitage.

  • Peter Farthing

    Overhyped, my friend Salinger is an American master and deserves all hype

  • Frank James Davis

    Great story.
    Two things: Jeff Nilsson got a byline for a couple of dozen words?
    I still think J.D. Salinger is overhyped.