Posted in Short Stories

“Just Before the War with the Eskimos”

Q♥  Q♥  Q♥  Q♥

I didn’t think J. D. Salinger’s short story “Just Before the War with the Eskimos” lived up to its catchy title.  It also could have been called “Meeting Strangers While I’m Sitting Alone In My Friend’s Living Room”.

Ginnie Mannox has insisted on waiting in the living room of her tennis partner, Selena, with whom Ginnie has become fed up because Selena always leaves her with the full cab fare.  Selena, making numerous excuses, goes to get the money at the risk of waking her “sick mother”.  While Ginnie is waiting, she separately meets Selena’s brother, Franklin, and his friend, Eric.

Salinger’s writing elevates the two conversations to full-fledged “encounters”.  I’d call it small talk with a little edge.

For those Salinger aficionados out there, feel free to explain to me the significance of the chicken sandwich.

3 thoughts on ““Just Before the War with the Eskimos”

  1. Hi Dale,

    I think I like your proposed title of this story better! 🙂 I’ve read it, but don’t remember much about it – other than the awkwardness about cab fare and the somewhat strange encounter with the brother of the one friend. Oh, well, I never connected with “A Perfect Day for Banana Fish” either, and everyone else thinks it’s great.

    The Laughing Man more than makes up for any shortcomings of his other stories though. 🙂


  2. Hi Jay, so far, my favorite Salinger stories have been “For Esme – With Love and Squalor” and “DeDaumier-Smith’s Blue Period”. “The Laughing Man” would be a close runner-up. I’ve been thinking lately about what these stories would be like reading them as a whole. I still have two more to go. They are in my DMI list so I will get to them this year. Sometime (not right away), I might try reading them all at once.


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