The particular college I had been attending apparently does not simply mail people’s grades home, but prefers to shoot them out of some kind of gun. When I got home to New York, even the butler looked tipped off and hostile. It was a bad night altogether. My father informed me quietly that my formal education was formally over. In a way, I felt like asking for a crack at summer school or something. But I didn’t. For one reason, my mother was in the room, and she kept saying that she just knew I should have gone to see my faculty adviser more regularly, that that was what he was there for. This was the kind of talk that made me want to go straight to the Rainbow Room with a friend.

I was taken a little aback, four or five evenings later, when my father suddenly asked me at dinner how I would like to go to Europe to learn a couple of languages the firm could use. First to Vienna and then maybe to Paris, he said unelaborately.

I replied in effect that the idea sounded all right to me. I was breaking off anyway with a certain girl on Seventy-Fourth Street. And I very clearly associated Vienna with gondolas. Gondolas didn’t seem like too bad a setup.

A Girl I Knew, originally published in Good Housekeeping magazine, February 1948

The excerpt above is from a short story published three years before Holden Caulfield appeared  in Catcher In The Rye. It hasn’t been reprinted since – but you can catch it online here.

h/t to Work-In-Progress who also adds more background…

jd salinger

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