Goldstein, Bernice and Goldstein, Sanford. “Zen and Nine Stories.”. Renascence: Essays on Value in Literature: 22. (1970), pp. 171-82.
“Because Salinger has prefixed to Nine stories as a Zen koan, the Zen element in these stories ought to be investigated. The attempt to solve a koan (for example, the sound of one hand clapping) may lead, among several possibilities, to insanity or enlightenment. Thus one approach to Nine Stories is an examination of these two extremes of the koan experience. In such stories as “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut,” “The Laughing Man,” and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” the destructive element is uppermost. In “For Esme – With Love and Squalor” and “De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period,” the positive element of enlightenment. Since children come closest to the Zen experience (Teddy, for example), Salinger’s focus on children in these stories serves to sharpen differences between the enlightened and non-enlightened, the logical and illogical, the spontaneous and self-conscious. The rational adult world confronted by impossible choice (by koan) may react in a logically rational though destructive way, but the world of the child has perhaps not yet reached the stage where dichotomies prevent full immersion in each confronted moment.”
Lundquist, James. J.D. Salinger. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1979. Print.
“This is 1979, and it has been twenty-eight years since Holden Caulfield dragged his deer-hunting cap and his prep-school heart through Manhattan. But J.D. Salinger’s ideas on the true and the false in American culture, his religious solutions to the crises of alienation and isolation, and his overriding sentimentality may have had more impact on the American brainscape than anyone yet has taken into account. Since the publication of a long story, ‘Hapworth 16, 1924,’ in The New Yorker in 1965, Salinger has maintained a silence that has turned him into the Howard Hughes of American Literature. But Salinger’s lasting significance has no declined. The startling thing for many of us to realize is that the confidential ravings of Holden Caulfield, the enigma of Seymour Glass’s suicide, and the pathetic pragmatism of the Jesus Prayer embraced by Franny Glass, remain part of our consciousness – and it is not just simply nostalgia for that time in the 1950s and early 1960s when Salinger’s characters provided just about the only voices that did not sound phony. As a whole new generation of readers indicates the appeal of his work is enduring. His influence remains, and we cannot get around it, perhaps cannot get over it.”