For Esmé with Love and Squalor
by J.D. Salinger
Analysis: Writing Style
Clever, clean, elegantly constructed
This is considered to be a classic New Yorker short story – that is to say, like the best of the short stories published by this landmark magazine, it's sleek, elegant, and beautifully constructed. Salinger doesn't waste any time or words here, and "For Esmé" thrives within its rather minimal boundaries…or perhaps because of them. There are no paragraphs of flowery description, nor are there even many exhibitions of authorial power; even when we move back and forth in time and location, the narrator just gives us the basic facts and lets us figure out everything else for ourselves. His transitions are quick and smooth, as in the beginning of the story, where he announces that he's going to write about the bride as he knew her several years ago – and suddenly, we're back in April of 1944 (3). Salinger lets his characters do the talking (the bulk of the story is brilliantly timed and reported dialogue), and doesn't interfere with them too much. The end result is a story that relies heavily upon character development and true-to-life conversation, which feels like a series of moments from real life.