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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.