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J. D. Salinger June 10, 2010

Posted by jayocallahan in Uncategorized.
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I was in high school when I read J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. I was astonished. Holden Caulfield was saying everything I felt. I wondered how in the world Salinger knew these things.

In college a friend of mine and I went down to New York to find old Salinger stories. We went from bookstore to bookstore in search of New Yorker magazines that had Salinger’s stories about Frannie and Zoey. I loved everything Salinger did including his Nine Short Stories. They were different from anything I’d read.

And then Salinger disappeared. He was living quietly in New Hampshire and there he died a few months ago. I admire him keeping silent.

Imagine Salinger resisting the pressure to get bigger and bigger, to make and more money and to become more and more famous. He turned his back on a cultural idol.

Bravo J. D. Salinger.

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1. LInda Goodman - June 11, 2010

I have read Catcher in the Rye several times. When my daughter read it, she loved it also, but could not understand how such an “old” man could understand teens so well.

I admire Salinger for having the courage to leave the limelight. Not many of us could give fame the cold shoulder, as he did.

2. Patti Emerson - June 11, 2010

I grew up in Windsor, Vt, right across the Connecticut River from the town in NH where Salinger lived. He was a sort of local legend, coming into town to collect his mail, and rumor had it, to write at Knapp’s Lunch — the local downtown diner. Some said that he wrote parts of Catcher in the Rye there, but I never knew if that was true or just a good story. I never saw him personally, but I heard that one day he took his jeep through the carwash and got drenched because the jeep was so full of holes (again, this was hearsay, so I can’t be sure).

The one thing I do know for sure is that his writing captivated me. Some of us wrote him a letter and tried to get an interview with him when we were in Creative Writing class in high school. He never replied. I loved the Nine Stories, and Catcher; I loved Holden, Esme and the Glass family; I loved the way Salinger used goddam as an advective. I still count Franny and Zooey as one of the books that changed my life forever. I was 16 years old.

I still have the same copy of the book I used in high school. It has my maiden name written neatly on the inside front cover, and lives in a place of honor in a bookcase reserved for the special books, the life-changing books. It keeps close company with Joyce’s Dubliners and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. This is something that Zooey (and Salinger) taught me:

“But I’ll tell you a terrible secret — Are you listening to me? There isn’t anyone out there who isn’t Seymour’s Fat Lady. That includes your Professor Tuppet, buddy. And all his goddam cousins by the dozens. There isn’t anyone anywhere that isn’t Seymour’s Fat Lady. Don’t you know that? Don’t you know that goddam secret yet? And don’t you know — listen to me, now — don’t you know who that Fat Lady really is? . . .Ah, buddy. Ah, buddy. It’s Christ Himself, Christ Himself, buddy.”

And so it is. Thanks, J D.

3. Anna Higgins - June 12, 2010

Thank you for the refections on Jd Salinger. He certainly had a right to be quiet. I wish we could one day share in his thoughts while he lived a solitary life, but if not, bless him for his integrity!

I also loved the piece on te launch. I felt there with you and the others…..for a time fused into the moment, then again scattered into individual lives. I loved the story of the young woman wanting to visit the strange world of 7th grade students. It is a final frontier of sorts, each and every year. God preserve that girl and those like her!

Anna Higgins

4. Jim May - July 29, 2010

I’m starting to understand Salinger’s “dropping out.” George Harrison commented that having fame, power and recognition in your life is the worst possible scenario if your a seeking a spiritual path. I don’t know what, if any, path Salinger was seeking, but I can project many good reasons for the quiet life.


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