published in the New Yorker magazine as a short story on April 8, 1950,
"For Esmé – with Love & Squalor" was published with other tales
in J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories two years later after his spectacular
success with Catcher in the Rye – a classic story of a rich kid who cannot fit
into society’s demands. While the story collection's formal title is Nine
Stories, it is more commonly known as For Esmé – With Love & Squalorafter it most memorable story. Believed to be autobiographical, it tells of a
World War II American Army sergeant – referred to only as Sergeant X – and a
chance meeting he had with a teenage girl and her little brother at a church.
She is distant, yet intriguing to the homesick serviceman. She keeps him at
arm’s length and upon learning that he is a writer, lets him know that she’d
like him to write her a story about “squalor.” He does – recounting their
meeting and how much it meant to him. The short story was immediately popular
with readers. Less than two weeks after its publication, Salinger received more
letters about For Esmé than he had for any story he had published."
A warm and melancholy tale, it is an inspiring, touching slice of life by an
~ Rob Kerby
Purchase "For Esme With Love and Squalor" here.
58 - Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption»