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For JD - with Love and Squalor
January 28, 2010 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Famously reclusive American author J.D. Salinger has died at 91. The author of The Catcher in the Rye, a novel alternatively banned and labeled the Great American Novel, Salinger was also among the last authors whose short stories were routinely published in magazines. Salinger's other published works include Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories & Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.

Largely avoiding the public eye since 1962 - and caught admist a series of legal battles and relationship rumors - Salinger has served as the archetypal reclusive author, most famously in the films Field of Dreams and Finding Forrester.
posted by l33tpolicywonk (263 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by ipe at 10:40 AM on January 28, 2010


(((((())))))
posted by Dukebloo at 10:41 AM on January 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


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posted by vacapinta at 10:41 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by mr.marx at 10:41 AM on January 28, 2010


How many people named J.D. Salinger died today?!
posted by NationalKato at 10:41 AM on January 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


3rd times a charm!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:42 AM on January 28, 2010


Four so far.
posted by Big_B at 10:42 AM on January 28, 2010


Actually five. First one got smacked down pretty quick.
posted by davidmsc at 10:43 AM on January 28, 2010


"I'm sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect." — J.D.S. RIP.
posted by njbradburn at 10:43 AM on January 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Salinger moved to better hospital, upgraded to stable-but-old.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:43 AM on January 28, 2010


Those other threads are the phonies.
posted by mosk at 10:43 AM on January 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I vote for keeping this thread open.
posted by jscalzi at 10:44 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by fixedgear at 10:44 AM on January 28, 2010


Yeah -- this is the best of the 5.
posted by ericb at 10:46 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by ericb at 10:46 AM on January 28, 2010


. . . . .
posted by gcbv at 10:46 AM on January 28, 2010


At least he lived to see the iPad.
posted by GuyZero at 10:46 AM on January 28, 2010 [56 favorites]


Previously.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:48 AM on January 28, 2010


Second for keeping this well rounded thread open.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:48 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by Elmore at 10:48 AM on January 28, 2010


I am just now getting over Franny and Zooey (in the sense of loving not wisely but too well).

a bajillion thanks, no matter how pretentious it sounds.

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posted by toodleydoodley at 10:48 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Phonies
posted by Elmore at 10:49 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


“I hope to hell that when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetary. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody.” [JDS]
posted by rinosaur at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2010 [23 favorites]


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posted by Splunge at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2010


What a bunch of crumby news.
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posted by Hlewagast at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by HabeasCorpus at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by geekyguy at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2010


Please tell me he's going to have "Fuck You" on his tombstone.

That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "Fuck you" right under your nose. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it'll say "Holden Caulfield" on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it'll say "Fuck you." I'm positive.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


It seems inappropriate to place a metaphorical pebble in this thread, considering this:

“I hope to hell that when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody.” -- J.D. Salinger.


So I'll just say, "Thanks, J.D. Catcher meant a lot to me."
posted by zarq at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I will always remember him opening for the Titté Brothers. RIP.

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posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, crap.
posted by muddgirl at 10:51 AM on January 28, 2010


Clearly, the Times was also rushing to get their obit up. On the NYT site right now:

But was he writing? The question obsessed Salingerologists, and in the absence of any real evidence, theories multiplied. He hadn’t written a word for years. Or like the character in Stephen King’s novel “The Shining,” he wrote the same sentence over and over again. Or like Gogol at the end of his life, he wrote prolifically but then burned it all up. Ms. Maynard said she believed there were at least two novels locked away in a safe, although she had never seen them. Quote TK from Salinger’s agent about surviving manuscripts, if any, and plans for them.
posted by neroli at 10:51 AM on January 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by uncorq at 10:51 AM on January 28, 2010


RIP. For those of you who have only read Catcher in the Rye, you need to head down to your local library and grab the Glass stories (especially Franny and Zooey). They're the dry-aged steak to Catcher's Big Mac. I'm pretty close to non-religious, but Franny and Zooey belongs in a small collection of books that I would consider to be holy texts.
posted by youcancallmeal at 10:51 AM on January 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Great quote, rinosaur. Thanks for that.

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(not a flower)
posted by JeffK at 10:52 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by anagrama at 10:52 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by joedan at 10:52 AM on January 28, 2010


J.D. Salinger would be so pleased to know he is getting all this attention.
posted by found missing at 10:52 AM on January 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


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Lets enjoy this moment of peace before the looting of his literary estate starts.
posted by anastasiav at 10:52 AM on January 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


Apologies to the mods for joining the pile on of the obit threads, but this one really deserved some substance. Apologies also for misspelling Seymore.

Before I knew about the short story link in my post, I wanted to find all of Salinger's short stories. Like many people, I fell in love with Catcher, and I was particularly fascinated by the contents of Nine Stories, especially For Esme, with Love and Squalor. So, I found a list of the complete published works of Salinger, and I went to my local university library with a pocketful of quarters and decided I was going to make copies of each and every one I could find.

Flipping through old Saturday Evening Posts and New Yorkers was the best way to read Salinger - it meant for a kid from Iowa, born in 1988, an experience of what Salinger's world really was. It also meant, for me, a wholly different idea of what literature was - not something that people read in school because they have to, or on airplanes because they were bored, but something that comes to your doorstep, something that sits on your coffee table, something that's an active living part of your home and your experience. It was the first time in my life I really wanted to be literate for its own sake.

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posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:53 AM on January 28, 2010 [16 favorites]


In seventh grade, a time during which I read nothing but science fiction, my mother walked into my room and literally threw a copy of Catcher at me; the only words following were "read it." This was the one and only time she had ever done such a thing. I devoured it immediately and was, just as quickly, imbued with the "fuck-the-system" mentality a highly impressionable preteen would adopt from reading such a work. That mentality eventually became "change-the-system" and directs the very way I lead my life today.

Thank you, mom and thank you, Mr. Salinger.
posted by griphus at 10:53 AM on January 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I can't help but wonder what he would think of his death being announced like this.

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posted by tommasz at 10:53 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by jimmythefish at 10:53 AM on January 28, 2010


"I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn't have to have any goddamn stupid useless conversations with anybody. If anybody wanted to tell me something they'd have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. They'd get bored as hell doing that after a while, and then I'd be through with having conversations for the rest of my life."
posted by BeerFilter at 10:53 AM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Nine Stories made me fall in love with the short story form; without Salinger I might never have read books that I treasure today.
posted by sallybrown at 10:54 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by WPW at 10:54 AM on January 28, 2010


He had a good innings at 91 years of age. He got a few things published and they were all pretty fucking amazing. He shunned the media and lived his life. What a hero.
posted by Elmore at 10:55 AM on January 28, 2010


Ugh, fuck. Namesake.
posted by banannafish at 10:56 AM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


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You can read a bunch of his stories that were never published in book form here.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:56 AM on January 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


RIP JFK
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on January 28, 2010


"And so there's a distinct internal contradiction running through the Delphic leavings of the public J. D. Salinger, a peculiar irony that doesn't seem to be inconsistent with the crabbed and ingrown course the man's own life has taken since 1965: If J. D. Salinger's safe really is crammed with unpublished manuscripts, we'll expect the eventual publication of one strangely cold book after another, describing the utter superiority of the compassionate soul." Stained-Glass Window, 1999.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:57 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by zizzle at 10:58 AM on January 28, 2010


neroli: "Quote TK from Salinger’s agent about surviving manuscripts, if any, and plans for them."

I suspect the plans include prolonged litigation, followed by lucrative publication.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:58 AM on January 28, 2010


I wonder if his estate will now allow Orchises Press to republish 'Hapworth 16, 1924' in book form.
posted by ericb at 10:58 AM on January 28, 2010


Apologies also for misspelling Seymore.

Almost got it that time.
posted by albrecht at 10:58 AM on January 28, 2010


I've been joking for years that I couldn't wait for this to happen, as like many I felt sure it was the only way to ever see more of the Glass family stories (if they in fact exist). And now I find myself completely incapacitated.

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posted by cranberry_nut at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by brundlefly at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2010


Wow.

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posted by paisley henosis at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by Sreiny at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2010


The fifth link is a google click-tracking redirect. The mods should consider editing that out and replacing it with a direct link to the deadcaulfields.com URL.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2010


How long before a Catcher movie? Hopefully forever.

He had a lot of wisdom. I'm glad I read his works.
posted by jiawen at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2010


You can read a bunch of his stories that were never published in book form here.

Thanks for the link.

They have Hapworth 16, 1924 (from The New Yorker, June 19, 1965) there.
posted by ericb at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2010


I still remember when I read "Catcher" in eighth grade. We had to pick our own book to read outside of regular class reading. I'd head of "Catcher" several times in conjunction with its controversies and attempts to ban it, so I decided I wanted to read it. When I told the teacher what my choice was, she got this look of sort of pleasantly shocked surprise, then thought for a second and realized she oughta cover her ass just in case and asked me if I would please just have my parents send a little note that they were OK with it. Which Mom was delighted to do.

That opening paragraph. "..and all that David Copperfield kind of crap..." - was a world opening moment. It was just so 180 degrees from everything else I'd ever read that I loved the whole thing immediately, regardless of how well I actually understood some of it.

(In fact I read "Nine Stories" the next year and had to do some work to cover up how little I "got" them. Been meaning to go back to them ever since.)
posted by dnash at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by Lacking Subtlety at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by Ber at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2010


crum-bum
posted by wcfields at 11:01 AM on January 28, 2010


This is a perfect day for bananafish

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posted by strangememes at 11:01 AM on January 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye




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posted by dchrssyr at 11:01 AM on January 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


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posted by Webbster at 11:03 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by elsietheeel at 11:04 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by shakespeherian at 11:05 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by oddman at 11:05 AM on January 28, 2010


At last we can see the movie...
posted by aeshnid at 11:05 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by Iridic at 11:06 AM on January 28, 2010


I can't really say it's a shame, because, man, 91 is pretty good. And he wrote some great things and lived his life they way he wanted, so that's pretty impressive.
Very much respect, I guess, is what I'd like to convey.
And I really, really dread the coming gold-digging; the people raiding his safe for manuscripts (maybe he'll have it buried with him?) and the inevitable, shitty Catcher in the Rye movie by Spielberg or Jason Reitman or whomever.
posted by chococat at 11:06 AM on January 28, 2010


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Goodbye Seymour, goodbye Buddy, goodbye Franny, goodbye Zooey. Goodbye Dickie Briganza and all the others. Thank you for sharing that which you did, and I understand if you didn't want to share more~
posted by localhuman at 11:06 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Another vote for Franny & Zooey being better than Catcher in the Rye.

In fact, if you've never read Salinger, ignore Catcher in the Rye. Read Franny & Zooey.

RIP you miserable, crumby, crazy old son of a bitch. If you've given me any one small, valuable thing it's destroying any illusion that mental illness was cool or perversely desirable, or that rebellion for the sake of rebellion itself was ever useful.

From the bottom of my warped, illusive heart - fuck you very much. If they bury you in a marked grave I'll bring piss instead of flowers. But I can't promise you that it won't be phony.
posted by loquacious at 11:06 AM on January 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


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posted by Lutoslawski at 11:07 AM on January 28, 2010


Small note: Holden Caulfield's thoughts are not the same as J.D. Salinger's. I don't think we should be quoting them as if they are.
posted by naju at 11:08 AM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


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posted by flippant at 11:08 AM on January 28, 2010


I woke up just this morning thinking about one of my favorite parts Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters, when Zooey describes his relationship to Seymour as "We were boys together." An incredible story and a frequent source of inspiration for me. RIP, JDS.
posted by albrecht at 11:08 AM on January 28, 2010


I read all of Salinger's books as an angsty teenager. I readvsome of them again years later as a grown-up adult, and found them to be completely different. They were sharp, witty black comedies, yet they retained real affection for their satirical targets. I hope he'll be remembered for his interesting and sometimes enigmatic writing rather than his reclusiveness. A guy has the right to quit his job, even if his title is "famous author".

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posted by chrchr at 11:08 AM on January 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by iktomi at 11:09 AM on January 28, 2010


One time in high school, I got a four-hour long detention on a Saturday morning for starting a food fight in the cafeteria (and admitted to it; the other participants denied it up and down and got off scott free). I was the only kid there that morning, and the teacher who had to babysit me was not pleased about having to drag his hung-over ass out to school on account of one dorky kid. "Did you bring anything to read?" he asked. I hadn't. He handed me a copy of Nine Stories and said "Read this. You might like it. I'm gonna go take a nap."

Best Saturday morning I ever spent.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:09 AM on January 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:09 AM on January 28, 2010


Someone once tried to seduce me using a line from one of Salinger's works. I've had a wistful fondness for him ever since.
posted by False Dichotomy at 11:10 AM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


A well-worth-reading review of Franny & Zooey by John Updike, 1961 (behind a NYTimes login wall).
posted by oinopaponton at 11:14 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]







posted by Skygazer at 11:15 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I once skipped an an entire afternoon of high-school classes Freshman year to sit in a little used stairwell and read Catcher cover-to-cover. Ironically enough it was the English teacher who had assigned the book that morning who busted me for ditching out on my assigned classes. I was assigned the book again Freshman year of college for a "History of America Post-WWII" class to illustrate the rise of "teenager" as a concept in the post war period. I got a C on that quiz because I was completely unable to distance myself emotionally enough from Holden to analyze it as a historical document.

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posted by Bango Skank at 11:16 AM on January 28, 2010



In fact, if you've never read Salinger, ignore Catcher in the Rye. Read Franny & Zooey.

In fact, ignore anyone who tries to give you advice.
posted by tigrefacile at 11:16 AM on January 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


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posted by Brody's chum at 11:16 AM on January 28, 2010


In fact, ignore anyone who tries to give you advice.

Screw you, I'm not doing that.
posted by GuyZero at 11:17 AM on January 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


and to borrow a sentiment from the Zinn obit thread: "Fuck You January 2010"...
posted by Bango Skank at 11:17 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What. The. Hell. 2010??? Seriously? WTH? You've got about 82 hours left in January. At this point, just gone and get all of this bad news crap over with, okay? So I can settle in and enjoy the rest of the year?

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posted by jeanmari at 11:17 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's with the rooster now.


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posted by waraw at 11:17 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by OmieWise at 11:17 AM on January 28, 2010


His story, "The Laughing Man" was my favorite. Read it here, I'm sure you will love it too.
posted by willmize at 11:19 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


As I said in one of the deleted threads, I still can't decide between Zooey and Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:19 AM on January 28, 2010


The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause. The mark of an mature man is that he wants to live humbly for the same cause. --Thurber, from The Catcher in the Rye.

I just told JD that my parents would probably have two hemorrhages a piece if I told them about it too.

I wish you no amount of luck, Mr. Salinger.

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posted by captainsohler at 11:21 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apologies also for misspelling Seymore.

Almost got it that time.


However, See More Glass would be entirely acceptable.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:22 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


FUCK
posted by steef at 11:22 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jesus. Fuck.
posted by Heretic at 11:24 AM on January 28, 2010


First,
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Second, I apologize to those who saw the first post. My fail. Sent an *URGENT* email to mods but obviously not soon enough.

If you didn't see it, it read "Obit here" with a link. Not minimalist enough to qualify as a style. Would have simply read "Obit" or "Here."

Taking comfort that the post apparently took 3-4 more tries. Thanks for the flogs, extra thanks for the patience!
posted by robotico at 11:26 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aw gees. He influenced my life from the moment I was born.
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posted by green herring at 11:26 AM on January 28, 2010


We always had a copy of Catcher in the Rye around our house that belonged to my mom. It is this edition with a lurid, pulpy cover. That copy is still in my personal library. My mom always said it was one of her favorite books but never pushed us to read it. Then I had an English teacher in the tenth grade who we all though was crazy. (Looking back, she was crazy, but in a wonderful way.) She told us "I have been forbidden to teach this book, but if you read one book over summer, make it Catcher in the Rye."

I took her advice and am still grateful to her for it. Along with MAD magazine, that book really helped shape who I am and helped make me realize I wasn't quite as odd as I thought.
posted by marxchivist at 11:26 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Being a part of the cult of celebrity requires you to keep trying for more and more until you fail. People who exit that competition of their own accord, on their own terms, are rare and seem contrary to the character of who we are. We divide into camps of "I would do exactly the same thing (if I could)" and "Props for going out on top, but I'm sad to think of all those years where he could have done more." Either side comes down to, yes, I feel for the guy but what about me?

If he had died in 1965 instead of retiring from the literary world, he would have been mourned as somebody who wrote great things and left a major literary legacy. Instead, he became somebody who wrote great things, left a major literary legacy, and then went off and did something else and refused to talk about it and we built up expectations in ourselves that, since he was a professional writer, he would also be an amateur writer, and continue producing for an audience of himself, and all it takes now is for us to wait and see whether he was prolix or limited in his output. There's little consideration for his thought of his own role in this, in which the little memos to himself, letters to others, and idle thoughts were not important things left uncapitalized-on, but were instead the output of a chicken farmer who had good writing skill but no more ambition in that direction.
posted by ardgedee at 11:29 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was surprised by his daughter's revelation that he "drank his own urine and spoke in tongues." Not as bad-ass as Simo Häyhä, but still a little more intense than I imagined him to be.

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posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:29 AM on January 28, 2010


Upon hearing the news, I immediately re-read For Esme - with Love and Squalor and relearned a couple of things I had forgotten I forgot.

Thanks, JDS. Hope you're at peace.
posted by 256 at 11:30 AM on January 28, 2010


RIP, J.D. Thank you for the amazing, affecting writing.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:32 AM on January 28, 2010


What now!?
posted by JBennett at 11:32 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by sa3z at 11:34 AM on January 28, 2010


So long and thanks for all the bananafish.

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posted by emelenjr at 11:36 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


He was around 45 when he stopped writing professionally. He lived another 45 years. Subtracting his youth - let's say 15 years - that means that he spent less than half of his life as a professional writer. I wonder how he self identified? "Former writer?" "Some guy?" "Star Trek fan?"

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posted by Joey Michaels at 11:37 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by DrDreidel at 11:37 AM on January 28, 2010


Along with Vonnegut, he was a life-changing author for me.
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posted by feste at 11:41 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by kinnakeet at 11:41 AM on January 28, 2010


My heart just sank. I have read Franny & Zooey so many times.

I can't help but think that someone who wrote the things he wrote could not have resisted writing more, and I hope we see a flood of hidden Salinger works come out of the closet now that he's safe from the invasive effects of being famous.

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posted by heatherann at 11:41 AM on January 28, 2010


“'I'm just going through a phase right now. Everybody goes through phases and all, don't they?”
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posted by extrabox at 11:42 AM on January 28, 2010


I doubt there'll be another author with his talent, discipline and integrity in my lifetime. Can you imagine anyone now calling publishing "a damned interruption"?
posted by blazingunicorn at 11:43 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by valdesm at 11:44 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by citywolf at 11:45 AM on January 28, 2010


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Although I can't find a full version online, Charles D'Ambrosio's personal essay about himself, Salinger and suicide, "Salinger and Sobs," is so ridiculously worth the read (I know you can find it in The Story About the Story.

And nthing being amazed how great re-reads of CitR have been, especially if you read it in 8th grade and bought into Holden's worldview. One of my favorite reading moments was re-reading CitR and getting one of those, "Oh, OH, Jesus, Holden, kid, I had no idea ..." One of the most superbly written protags in US fiction and beyond.

Next time you have a spare afternoon/evening, pick it up again, be done by bedtime, and enjoy.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 11:46 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've never known a book that polarizes people as much as "Catcher in the Rye." I don't think I've talked to anyone who is meh about it. People love it or hate it. More interesting: they love Holden or hate him (which doesn't necessarily correspond to whether they love or hate the book).

I think I've met more women who dislike Holden than men, though I've met plenty of people of both genders who defy that generalization. (My mom originally recommended the book to me.)

It has nothing to do with intelligence: I know brilliant people who love the book and equally brilliant ones who hate it.the book. I wish I understood what sorts of people liked and disliked Holden. I feel like it's predictive of something -- but what?

I adore the book and it's protagonist, so I can't really speak for the other side. But here are two criticisms I've heard:

1) Holden is a snob. (Reference to all the "phonies" talk.) I guess he is, but as an introvert/misanthrope -- and as someone who values sincerity -- I empathize with him. As a middle-aged adult, I am way more gentle and forgiving than Holden, but I was totally in his shoes as a teenager, and I remember that feeling well.

2) "When is he going to SHUT THE FUCK UP and DO something?" Some people have "piss or get off the pot" personalities, and nothing irritates them as much as navel gazing and complaining. I am the opposite: I think. I think again. I over-think. I worry. I obsess... all without doing anything. So that side of Holden resonates with me, too. For similar reasons, I feel for Hamlet.

Thanks, J.D.
posted by grumblebee at 11:47 AM on January 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


He was around 45 when he stopped writing professionally. He lived another 45 years. Subtracting his youth - let's say 15 years - that means that he spent less than half of his life as a professional writer. I wonder how he self identified? "Former writer?" "Some guy?" "Star Trek fan?"

I just wonder what he, y'know, did. With his time. For forty-five years. Build models? Lift kettlebells? Surf the net?
posted by fixedgear at 11:48 AM on January 28, 2010


Catcher was banned here when my Dad read it. I read his copy twenty years later.
posted by Elmore at 11:48 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by special-k at 11:49 AM on January 28, 2010


With fond memories of AP English,

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posted by fuse theorem at 11:49 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by juv3nal at 11:50 AM on January 28, 2010


Holden is a snob. (Reference to all the "phonies" talk.) I guess he is, but as an introvert/misanthrope -- and as someone who values sincerity -- I empathize with him.

Not to quibble with your love of a great book & a great character, but Holden is a huge snob with no valuation for sincerity. He spends the whole book decrying phonies while simultaneously lying to everyone he meets for no reason at all, other than that he's been deeply, deeply hurt and feels like taking it out on people he feels superior towards. I love the kid, but Christ.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:51 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


OK, am I the only one who finds it a little disappointing that he wasn't assassinated by someone who read "A Catcher in the Rye"?
posted by symbioid at 11:51 AM on January 28, 2010


I hope we see a flood of hidden Salinger works come out of the closet now that he's safe from the invasive effects of being famous.

Seriously, I hope that archivists wrap his house and study with yellow crime scene tape, and catalog every scrap of paper with typescript or handwriting, down to the last index card and Post-It note. Hell, catalog the blank pages, and send them off to the FBI handwriting lab to see if anything was written on the page above.
posted by steef at 11:52 AM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]



/ \
[.]
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:53 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by bz at 11:53 AM on January 28, 2010


Holden's not a snob. Well, he is a snob, but mostly he's a huge phony. The greatest thing about his character is that he, like so many of us, hates almost everything about himself, and endlessly sees his own faults in other people.
posted by muddgirl at 11:55 AM on January 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


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posted by lunit at 11:55 AM on January 28, 2010


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And let's all shine our shoes for the Fat Lady.
posted by jrossi4r at 11:55 AM on January 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Not to quibble with your love of a great book & a great character, but Holden is a huge snob with no valuation for sincerity. He spends the whole book decrying phonies while simultaneously lying to everyone he meets for no reason at all, other than that he's been deeply, deeply hurt and feels like taking it out on people he feels superior towards.

Yes. And?
posted by grumblebee at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2010


In seventh grade, a time during which I read nothing but science fiction, my mother walked into my room and literally threw a copy of Catcher at me; the only words following were "read it."

Similar experience, albeit at a bookstore and with more of a handing-over motion than a throw. It was a remarkable year where my dad introduced me to Salinger, Orwell, Golding, Tolkein, Hemingway....

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posted by vespertine at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2010


ericb: "They have Hapworth 16, 1924 (from The New Yorker, June 19, 1965) there."

The New Yorker has put up all his stuff here.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Holden's not a snob. Well, he is a snob, but mostly he's a huge phony.

He's one of a long line of unreliable narrators, which tend to be my favorite kind -- as I see them as the most human.
posted by grumblebee at 11:57 AM on January 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yes. And?

Oh, I thought that you were applying your own valuation for sincerity to Holden as well.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:57 AM on January 28, 2010


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posted by cowbellemoo at 11:58 AM on January 28, 2010


I wonder how he self identified? "Former writer?" "Some guy?" "Star Trek fan?"

That's an interesting question. Do you stop being a writer once the last thing is published? What if he kept writing stuff and just gave up publishing? Is publishing required to be a writer, or just the writing? Not sure.
posted by JanetLand at 11:58 AM on January 28, 2010


don't you know who that Fat Lady really is?

.
posted by Sailormom at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2010


He's one of a long line of unreliable narrators, which tend to be my favorite kind -- as I see them as the most human.

Exactly. Which is why it's sort of funny to watch upper-middle-class, slightly-creative mostly-intelligent girls and boys fall head over heels for the guy when they read Catcher in the Rye in high school. I have never been quite able to tell if they're falling in love with the mask or the vulnerability of the guy underneath.
posted by muddgirl at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think Holden genuinely hates phoniness (and loves sincerity). The fact that he's a hypocrite says nothing about the force of his feelings.

I have the same values. Yet I have been insincere plenty of times. I've lied, too. The book -- for me -- isn't a lesson or a moral tract. It's a study of an imperfect person. As a fellow imperfect person. I enjoy it.
posted by grumblebee at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I intend to drink a toast to J.D. tonight with a shot of eagle's blood.
posted by digsrus at 12:01 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Seymour once said to me - in a crosstown bus, of all places - that all legitimate religious study must lead to unlearning the differences, the illusory differences, between boys and girls, animals and stones, day and night, heat and cold."
- J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

Saddened to hear of his passing. I read Catch in the Rye every year. This was the first year I seemed unable to finish it--decided that was a sign that I'd grown up (not sure how I feel about that). Franny and Zooey is my favorite though.

At the risk of offending Salinger lovers, I feel much the same about his passing as I did about John Hughes. Someone who's work I loved and identified with, cutting their work short while in their prime; and me, selfishly, wishing and waiting for them to do more...it's like hearing of the passing of an old friend who you'd meant to see again, spend more time with, create more memories, but it's too late.
posted by fyrebelley at 12:02 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a study of an imperfect person. As a fellow imperfect person. I enjoy it.

I agree with this.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:02 PM on January 28, 2010


And like Ralph Ellison, Salinger refused to allow his classic novel to be turned into a film.
posted by Postroad at 12:03 PM on January 28, 2010


muddgirl, this is another reason I love the book so much. It has grown with me. When I was in high school, I fell in love with Holden through pure identification. I shared his tastes and values -- and I was a hypocrite in exactly the same way he was.

As an adult reader, I laugh at him -- gently -- and want to protect him (mostly from himself). And I laugh at that immature person I once was, too. And want to go back in time and protect him, too.
posted by grumblebee at 12:03 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just wonder what he, y'know, did. With his time. For forty-five years. Build models? Lift kettlebells? Surf the net?

Well, its New England. So: shovel snow or cut the grass. Also: Eat food. Have sex. Practice yoga. Write letters. Write. Love.

His Wikipedia page is fascinating. I'd love to know more about his time in the service, about what the men he served with thought of him, if they kept in touch or if he wrote (in a non-fiction way) about the enormously historic events he lived through. Even had he never written a single word, he still lived quite a life.
posted by anastasiav at 12:05 PM on January 28, 2010


Without Salinger, I would have walked down a completely different path. Moved by Catcher, inspired in ways I am unable to articulate by Franny & Zooey, haunted by Seymour and that bullet...

I am a graduate student in English who is mourning the loss of a brilliant mind and celebrating that brilliant mind who helped me discover what makes me tick.
posted by Defenestrator at 12:06 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was introduced to Salinger in HS when a friend gave me a copy of 9 Stories for Christmas. Hooked immediately.
Sad news.

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posted by Thorzdad at 12:08 PM on January 28, 2010


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even though I never liked the book that much and found Holden mostly irritating.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:08 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by vibrotronica at 12:10 PM on January 28, 2010


you're the man now dog.
posted by kliuless at 12:12 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


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I'm really looking forward to reading his unpublished books. Fifteen manuscripts maybe locked up in the vault? This will be a major event.
posted by meadowlark lime at 12:14 PM on January 28, 2010


"Seymour: An Introduction" is one of the finest pieces of literature published in the second half of the 20th century. Too rarely read, and almost never taught, it is a magnificent piece of writing, pure and complicated, from first to last. I hope he leaves us with one more half as good.
posted by milarepa at 12:16 PM on January 28, 2010


I also can't stand anyone who tries to slash Catcher because "Holden's immature!" He's sixteen. That's the point.
posted by meadowlark lime at 12:17 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The New Yorker has put up all his stuff here.

That's a nice tribute.

New Yorker | October 2001: Holden At Fifty -- “The Catcher in the Rye” and what it spawned.
posted by ericb at 12:20 PM on January 28, 2010


His story, "The Laughing Man" was my favorite.

Yes. I adore that story. Sometimes I think I've gotten too old to enjoy Salinger, and then I remember that one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by johnny novak at 12:26 PM on January 28, 2010


The guy was in a class of his own. F&Z was one of the very few books I could read again and again and be reading something different every time. For a novel that's basically just three conversations and a lot of pregnant pauses (no ambiguous subtextual pun intended), it was incredibly rich.

Is. Is incredibly rich.

Dammit.
posted by him at 12:26 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by shoepal at 12:26 PM on January 28, 2010


For anyone uncritically conflating Salinger the author with Holden Caulfield's contempt for "phoniness," be aware that Salinger was into homeopathy, urine drinking, orgones, and speaking in tongues.

I'd also like to self-identify here as someone who has no strong feelings about Catcher in the Rye. I thought it was fine. Decent piece of writing, pretty good characterization. I don't really see the "All-time Great Work of Literature," but it does seem to connect with privileged teenagers.
posted by rusty at 12:26 PM on January 28, 2010


Just re-read all of his novels last year and am still convinced that he is one of the best, despite the naysayers.

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posted by ekroh at 12:27 PM on January 28, 2010


Dammit. Usually, working in a library is a solace when a literary hero passes - I can escape for a moment to the stacks, read a bit, and remember why I loved them so. No such luck today - all our copies of Salinger's work are either missing (presumed stolen) or currently checked out, and have been that way for a long, continuous time before he died. It's a tribute of sorts, I guess, that people love him so that normal library processes can't keep up.

Franny and Zooey is my all-time favorite, although he never wrote a word I didn't love.
posted by donnagirl at 12:30 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by Tacodog at 12:33 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by Smart Dalek at 12:35 PM on January 28, 2010


I have never been quite able to tell if they're falling in love with the mask or the vulnerability of the guy underneath.

I think it's a buy-mask-get-vulnerability-free thing. Unless your reading is really slanted or discerning. Holden's not strictly an everyman, but I'm sure most people, at least when they first read the book, admire his front and understand his fragility, and recognise something of both in themselves.
posted by tigrefacile at 12:39 PM on January 28, 2010


This is the first time I've done this:

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posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:39 PM on January 28, 2010


I just wonder what he, y'know, did. With his time. For forty-five years. ... Surf the net?

He was around 75 years old when the world wide web was introduced to the public. So, I'm thinking he probably didn't spend much of his time on it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:40 PM on January 28, 2010


I must be the only person in the world who doesn't like Catcher in the Rye. I found it uninteresting and hard to get through. Then again, I did read it for 11th grade English.
posted by reenum at 12:40 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by wrapper at 12:44 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by rougy at 12:45 PM on January 28, 2010


Bananafish
posted by Juicy Avenger at 12:49 PM on January 28, 2010


And like Ralph Ellison, Salinger refused to allow his classic novel to be turned into a film.

It saddens me greatly that Salinger's heirs may not share his commitment to this.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 12:51 PM on January 28, 2010


And like Ralph Ellison, Salinger refused to allow his classic novel to be turned into a film.

If you're talking about F&Z, then Wes Anderson more or less has it covered...
posted by ennui.bz at 12:52 PM on January 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


And like Ralph Ellison, Salinger refused to allow his classic novel to be turned into a film.

It saddens me greatly that Salinger's heirs may not share his commitment to this.


Maybe they could get Bill Watterson to animate it.
posted by one_bean at 12:52 PM on January 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


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posted by greensweater at 12:56 PM on January 28, 2010


don't you know who that Fat Lady really is?

I love how Zooey is too stupid to realize Seymour meant Bessie, not proto-jesus-everyman out there in radio land. Shine your shoes for your mom, god damnit.
posted by milarepa at 12:57 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hmm, I guess an obit thread is kinda morbid by nature, so I have to say: I'm sure I'm not the only person who checked Catcher in the Rye out of the High School library as soon as they caught Mark David Chapman (who was famously carrying a copy when he shot Lennon.) I guess, to see what it *was* in there, that could make a guy think assassinating a musician was a good idea. (answer: what a stupid question!)

Liked it alright, but I was already reading, I dunno, Burroughs, Rimbaud, John Rechy (for some reason), so the foul-mouthed, 'cynical' narrator didn't do that much for me. Franny and Zooey though- hoo dogs! I don't know how many times I read that over the years, feeling every sentence in my bones, and lamenting that I didn't have a family like that, with hearts that big, and minds that exquisite...

The last time I tried to read any of those books, 10 years ago, they seemed kind of thin, and the characters transparently self-involved and precious and privileged... but then again, maybe I just turned into a giant phony, and forgot about the Fat Lady, and stuff. Maybe I'll be young enough for them again, some day, but even if I never am, for my 15 year old self, and all the rest of the kids who needed, and need Holden and the Glass family then, now, and in the future:

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posted by hap_hazard at 12:59 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


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really

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posted by omegar at 12:59 PM on January 28, 2010


It saddens me greatly that Salinger's heirs may not share his commitment to this.

I never want to see Franny and Zooey as a film. Although, in a weird irony, Zooey Deschanel might have made a good Franny when she was younger and less of a recognized hottie.

Zooey would have to have been Jesse Eisenberg.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:03 PM on January 28, 2010


"Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice. It's funny. Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

When I edited my high school yearbook, the year I left home, I put this on the very last page. People loved it. A high school yearbook is kind of the natural habitat for a Salinger quote, I think.
posted by bicyclefish at 1:05 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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I just took a trip to the Princeton University manuscripts collection to read his unpublished stories a few weeks ago. They are amazing, and I hope they can be released now that he's gone.
posted by amelliferae at 1:06 PM on January 28, 2010


Maybe they could get Bill Watterson to animate it.

This.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:09 PM on January 28, 2010


I used to be a total F&Z partisan, and I hated — hated — that Catcher was dude's best-known book. But as I get older I'm starting to come around on it.

I mean, I know you're supposed to identify with Holden when you're 15 or so. As a teenager, I could not get over the fact that he was Doing It Wrong — for all the reasons mentioned upthread: the snobbery and bad taste, the poorly disguised hurt and vulnerability, the vindictive weirdness. It took an awful lot of hindsight before I was even willing to consider the possibility that there'd been times when I was Doing It that kind of Wrong too. Now, finally, as I'm approaching 30, I do identify with the poor S.O.B., at least as a worst-case scenario.

Raise High the Roofbeam and probably half of Nine Stories are still big-ass mysteries as far as I'm concerned. Maybe I'll get the joke in another few decades.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:13 PM on January 28, 2010


I hope they don't make a movie of Catcher in the Rye because it's totally unfilmable. Seen from the outside, lacking the internal monologue, Holden's just a rich private school jerk. It's all about the voice.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:14 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish I understood what sorts of people liked and disliked Holden. I feel like it's predictive of something -- but what?

For me, it was the timing. If I had been given a copy of Catcher at 13 or even 14--a very angry, rebellious and bitter time in my life--I think it would have resonated with me more than it did when I read it for my Honors English class at the ripe old age of 16. By that time in my life, I was in love, and I had turned away from the anger and the bitterness. Or at least I was trying. So this Holden character struck me as juvenile and not the kind of person I wanted to be anymore, whereas just a couple of years earlier, he totally would have been my hero.

It would be interesting to read it again, now. I'm almost 35, and may have finally matured enough to cut Holden the slack, as a character/person, that my "evolved" 16-year-old self couldn't.
posted by apis mellifera at 1:18 PM on January 28, 2010


Today I finally have more rhymes than J.D.'s got Salinger and that saddens me.
posted by nomad at 1:24 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by fizzix at 1:24 PM on January 28, 2010


It would be interesting to read it again, now. I'm almost 35, and may have finally matured enough to cut Holden the slack, as a character/person, that my "evolved" 16-year-old self couldn't.

Yeah, I think there's a pretty interesting arc that I and many others I've talked to have gone through w/r/t Holden-- when you're young enough, you think the novel is about you and how you're right, and everyone else just doesn't get it. Then you get a little older and hate that person you used to be, and you have no patience for Holden, because you can't believe that you used to be so cynical so young.

Later you grow up more and see that your young cynicism, then your young anger at your younger cynicism, are both pretty typical of human experience, and it's silly for you to beat yourself up about it, and you can see that Catcher is really just a vivid portrait of someone at 16 (I mean, it's much more than that, too, but you know). I wonder what I'll think about it in ten years, or 50.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:27 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by ms.jones at 1:30 PM on January 28, 2010


Postroad : And like Ralph Ellison, Salinger refused to allow his classic novel to be turned into a film.

Fingers crossed that it stays that way. I don't doubt that a great movie could be made from it, but I can see too many possibilities were the end result would be crap.

Because even with the very best of intentions, Hollywood as it exists right now tends to not do well with putting classic stories to film.
posted by quin at 1:31 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by contessa at 1:32 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by mattbucher at 1:39 PM on January 28, 2010


Just got here, but I know what I'm doing tonight.
posted by humannaire at 1:44 PM on January 28, 2010


And oh yeah...

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posted by humannaire at 1:44 PM on January 28, 2010


RIP JD. We hardly new ye.
posted by chimaera at 1:46 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Salinger refused to allow his classic novel to be turned into a film.

I always thought Rushmore had Ryesque elements in it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:48 PM on January 28, 2010


One summer during high school, my best friend and I read all of J.D. Salinger's published work. While I loved fiction, my friend, at the time, preferred non-fiction-so it was an special delight for me to find a writer whom we both enjoyed. And by enjoyed, I mean one would rush over to the other's house to talk about "A Good Day for Banana Fish" or "De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period" for hours.

What started it was our mutual love of Holden. As a teenager, I did love the mask, but when I got older and reread the novel I still loved Holden. It takes a special writer who can layer a first person narrative that well. I connect my appreciation of unstable first person narrators to him.

.
That one is for me.

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That one is for my friend.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:51 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to say that I really agree with grumblebee's statements. This one stood out:

I think Holden genuinely hates phoniness (and loves sincerity). The fact that he's a hypocrite says nothing about the force of his feelings.

The Catcher in the Rye is my favorite book, and I love the character of Holden. In fact, I've been itching to reread it in recent weeks. I first read it when I was 12, and in the years since, many more times.

It's one of those timeless works that you can look at quite differently depending on your age and perspective, and in my case, still find something to deeply relate all of those times.

I need to go grab my comfortable, worn little paperback and reunite with my old friend soon.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:52 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by Sticherbeast at 1:55 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by Mental Wimp at 2:02 PM on January 28, 2010


What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse.

Good-by, JD.
posted by crossoverman at 2:10 PM on January 28, 2010


There must be at least a few pieces of work in that mythical safe that are publishable. I'm certainly not assuming that Salinger has been writing for six hours a day for the last 45 years. He may not have written a word for decades before he died. But surely before that he would have written a few things.

It'll be interesting to see what new material, if any, gets published now. Salinger's heirs will have control over the copyrights of his work for the next fifty years, and it'll be up to them to decide what to release. If they should choose to sit on whatever works that may exist, they can certainly do so. Even after the fifty years are up they are under no obligation to let anyone see the unpublished manuscripts they will still own.

I'm 36 and have been waiting to see what Salinger's got in his safe since I was 16. I'll be 86 if I'm still living when the copyright expires (and have no interest in living that long anyway), so I may never see what's in the safe.
posted by orange swan at 2:19 PM on January 28, 2010


 
posted by y2karl at 2:20 PM on January 28, 2010


“Squalor. I’m extremely interested in squalor.”

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posted by elmono at 2:34 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh good this means we can look forward to the four-hundred and fifty-seventh printing of Catcher In The Rye. Jerry Fletcher will enjoy that.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:35 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by cooker girl at 2:49 PM on January 28, 2010


A few weeks ago my niece and I were at the park in the evening, as the dark came down and the lights went up and the snow stopped falling and everything was frozen and blanketed in ice and cold.

My niece nudged me, nodded toward the pond, and asked "Ducks?" And we smiled together, thinking of the question Holden Caulfield keeps asking. We've never talked about the book, we've never read it together, but each of us knew the reference, knew the question, and knew the other knew it, too.

Thank you, J.D. Salinger, for that moment and for many other moments just like that.
posted by Elsa at 2:52 PM on January 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


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posted by fingers_of_fire at 2:58 PM on January 28, 2010


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crumby
posted by exlotuseater at 3:08 PM on January 28, 2010


I think I've talked about this on here before, but it was through Catcher that I learned not to be a person of unresolved ideals and inaction. Holden loved Jane. Holden never even speaks to Jane in the book. Jane moves on to live her own life, to be with boys, with people, to do things, even if she, too, knew sadness--a sadness too big for Holden to really contemplate. At sixteen, I decided to be a Jane, not a Holden.

Thanks, JD.

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posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:09 PM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've read nearly all of Salinger's work and have always had a deep respect. In fact, just this morning I was tearing into a book for trying to rip off his style and not succeeding. "For Esme - with Love and Squalor" was always my favorite. My best memory of Catcher in the Rye was the one time I failed to read it: After drinking everyone under the table at a party at a friend's house I somehow found a copy of Catcher, a note book, and managed to pour myself one last glass of absinthe. The intent was to read the entire book then and there, and take notes on it this time. For fairly self evident reasons that didn't happen, but it was a damn good plan anyway.

In the interest of sincerity and brevity I'll pay my respects like this. I'm glad he lived to the ripe old age of 91. I'm glad he died painlessly of natural causes. I'm glad he's dead if it means I get to read more of his work. And I'll be amused to no end if he chooses to be physically buried with his manuscripts rather than ever letting them out into the world. Rage, rage against the dying of the light you old goat, after this long there's no sense going out any other way.
posted by CheshireCat at 3:15 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by mwark at 3:23 PM on January 28, 2010


"Your heart, Bessie, is an autumn garage."

I've always loved that line. It's one of the few that have stuck with me for so long. RIP you weirdo and thanks for Franny and Zooey.
posted by sleepy pete at 3:28 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I liked how everyone in his books was pretty much smoking their Goddamn heads off all the time, especially in 9 Stories.

Anyhow, for better or for worse, I'm recently getting an inkling of how one, possibly ends up eating too many bananafish.
posted by Skygazer at 3:45 PM on January 28, 2010




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posted by edmcbride at 4:09 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:18 PM on January 28, 2010


Witty bastards. All I ever meet are witty bastards.
posted by jonmc at 4:23 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by mkim at 4:27 PM on January 28, 2010


"Salinger was also among the last authors whose short stories were routinely published in magazines." I don't know what this means. But I doubt it's very true.

At any rate, 13 of his stories from the New Yorker (available to subscribers)
posted by ganatronic at 4:33 PM on January 28, 2010


I really hated Catcher in the Rye, but man did I ever love the everliving hell out of Franny and Zooey. Thanks for the Glass family, J.D.. Rest in peace.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:44 PM on January 28, 2010


I couldn't stand the formatting on the freeweb site, so I mirrored the whole thing so I could make it more readable. If anyone else was in the same boat, you can find the mirror here.

All I did was find-and-replace to remove the bold and add margins, so there might be some weirdness in places. Eh. It's good enough.
posted by team lowkey at 4:47 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think about JD Salinger very often, but coincidentally I thought about him just last night, while reading a Sesame Street book.

It is revealed therein that the girl monster Muppet Zoe was named after Franny and Zooey. Zoe's performed by Fran Brill, and originally it was suggested to name the monster "Frannie."

Brill didn't want a Muppet named after her, but it reminded her of the Salinger book, and so that's how Zoe got her name. Interesting!
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 4:52 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't think of a better obit thread deserving of a period.

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posted by purephase at 4:58 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by festivemanb at 5:05 PM on January 28, 2010


Five years ago, as a tender-aged newly-minted fifteen-year-old, I spent the first month of high school immersed in Salinger. I remember curling up in an empty sunlit science classroom to finish "Seymour: An Introduction" and actually crying, knowing that this was all I had left. The world of the Glass family was basically my home -- I haven't yet been able to forget those four weeks in the Glasses' apartment (the overstuffed living room, the music-themed shower curtain, the soap-writing on the bathroom mirror), or on the beach with Seymour and Sybil (from Whirly Wood, Connecticut), or down at the dinghy with Boo Boo and Lionel...
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 5:10 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by wowbobwow at 5:14 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by brevator at 5:21 PM on January 28, 2010


i grew up in Puerto Rico and was given this book by my English teacher as part of an independent study. she convinced the principal in my catholic school to create a special curriculum for the handful of kids with advanced english skills and i was one of them.

i remember the shock of reading this book. that same semester i went on to read also Siddartha. can you imagine? i had never read a novel in English in my life, not even young adult literature of any kind and am reading Catcher in the Rye and Siddartha back to back.

can't remember the teacher's name but she really did change my life. she believed i could not only do better but have better and that's why she gave me people like JD Salinger to read.

fuck.

earlier i wrote: HOWARD ZINN died a day or two ago. now news of JD SALINGER's passing come in. the heroes of our youth exit, leaving us as elders. RIP


goodbye JD





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posted by liza at 5:28 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by Phssthpok at 5:40 PM on January 28, 2010


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posted by kylej at 5:48 PM on January 28, 2010


I remember trying to defend Catcher on Slate years ago, when there was some article questioning its following. I said something like, how as an adult, I couldn't really read Catcher anymore. It didn't resonate with who I was, but goddamn, did it resonate with me when I was 14 or 15 and read it for the first time. At that age, it helped me, made me understand that I wasn't as alone as I thought I was, and it gave me some sort of hope. That 14 year old me needed Catcher in the Rye, in a way that I've ever needed anything at any age.

Attempts to read it later, though, reminded me of who I was at fourteen, a fact that I've largely tried to hide when company comes over. Its been years since I've tried, and maybe it would be good to give myself at 14 another chance, too.

Thanks, Mr. Salinger.

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posted by Ghidorah at 5:59 PM on January 28, 2010


Poor Uncle Wiggly.
posted by effluvia at 6:23 PM on January 28, 2010


Salinger? That guy was a god damn phony. I can't stand guys like him, I really can't.
posted by Bonzai at 7:16 PM on January 28, 2010


My first exposure to Salinger came in Intro to Literature in high school, where my turtleneck-wearing teacher gave us this book, Catcher in the Rye, and promised that not only was it written in an authentic teenage voice—perhaps the best rendering of a teenager ever—but that it would speak to us as it had to generations of alienated teens. He knew, man, what we were going through, and with Salinger and Holden, we'd all understand that we weren't alone and fully appreciate the ability of literature to connect us all despite our differences.

I hated it. I hated the dated language, the private school privilege (which most of my peers shared), the constant ham-handed insistence on truth. Even Salinger's prose seemed stilted and off, never hitting a rhythm that I found native. Some rich fuck on a day trip to New York, it seemed to speak only to the luxurious angst that the upper-middle class kids all around me indulged in. I had no use for it like I had no use for the poetry portion of the class, which primarily focused on Jim Morrison lyrics.

A couple years after that, in the middle of a long-distance relationship that was slowly falling apart, the girl I was dating talked about how much she loved Salinger. I mumbled on my distaste for Catcher, and she told me that I needed to read the other stuff, the Glass stories. We were walking on the shores of Lake Michigan and she was saying that I couldn't understand her because she was just like Franny and I hadn't read the stories.

She left for Thailand, and I read the stories. I saw immediately why Franny appealed to her, how she'd adopted Franny's vocal tics and mishmash of Eastern philosophy. But she missed how self-absorbed and pretentious Franny is (even in the face of Lane's pretentiousness), how slight and how shallow that existential crisis reads. It's quirky people having quirky problems and confusing their erudition and peculiarity for depth and originality.

With Catcher, I'd been assigned to read it in order to find myself; with the Glass stories, I'd been assigned to read them in order to find someone else. Both times, found that I fundamentally don't connect with a great many of my peers regarding Salinger and his characters, and that they seemed more fantasies of alienation and intelligence than resonate with anything I've felt. I remember feeling like they were doused in class privilege and never evoked any real sympathy.

Maybe I'll give them another try, the short stories at least. I do think Salinger was incredibly adept with aphorism and he's certainly quotable. Maybe without any real stakes involved, I'll be able to enjoy them as lighter reading. Or maybe this will be like Wes Anderson films for me, where I like them generally but feel that the cloying tweeness causes them to be overrated.
posted by klangklangston at 7:22 PM on January 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


I was absolutely infuriated today when a close friend of mine - with a PhD in English, no less - reacted to the news of Salinger's death with "meh, overrated". I felt like smacking him upside the head with a copy of Nine Stories.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:09 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man. Now I'll never get to call him up on the phone.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:43 PM on January 28, 2010


I vividly remember a discussion I had with my dad, when I was maybe 14, about how much he admired the opening line of the story "Teddy" from Nine Stories. The opening line is this:
"I'll exquisite day you, buddy, if you don't get off that bag this minute. And I mean it," Mr. McArdle said.
My dad felt - or at any rate, on that one day when I was 14, he felt - that this was maybe the best opening line in literature, because of the way it conveys the characters that are involved and the mood and the tension so immediately. (And for years now, I had misremembered which story it's the opening to - I had been thinking it was the opening of Bananafish, and only now bothered to look it up.)

Cheers, JD Salinger. You wrote good stories.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:08 PM on January 28, 2010


Last November I was about a dozen miles from JD Salinger's place in Cornish, New Hampshire, having a wonderful Thanksgiving with a fellow MeFite. Thought about him living there, a beautiful part of the world.

A few months before I was conceived in January, 1953, my 'mother' had a brief affair with Salinger. It was the autumn of 1952, a year and a half after Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951. (She was too old for his preferences in female companionship. He in his mid 30's and she in her late 20's. At the same time he was dating his soon to be wife, Claire, only 17 years old and a survivor of a lot of trauma in her life.) I'm deeply thankful that they didn't hit it off and that Salinger did not end up being my father.

However, For Esmé – with Love and Squalor felt intimately meaningful to me when I read it at 15, way back in 1969. I felt fiercely protective of those Nine Stories of his but especially of Esme, a bit the way I felt about the movie, Sundays and Cybele, also the story of a young soldier with feelings of intimacy for a 12/13 year old girl. I identified a lot with that pretentious, precocious little girl, who lost her father. In his writing Salinger conveyed my own provocative sullenness, loneliness and deep loss, ill at ease in the world, being "a small-talk detester", feeling alienated but yearning, cynical yet romantic.

Now, 40 years later, I read Salinger with different eyes, that he was projecting seductiveness onto the little girl, Esme, making the soldier a passive receiver. Phoebe Hoban wrote an excellent biographical article in New York Magazine. It's readable online. It's easy to understand that JD Salinger was not a well man on more disturbing levels than I thought back in the 1960's. All his hinting in his writing at spiritual depths, the need for integrity, blunt honesty, his characters' needs for better parenting, anti materialism and anti-consumerism. It feels so different now I know more about him, the sadistic, verbally abusive person, the abusive father. I can honor his writing but not with the glow of admiration I once felt.

From what I've read both by his daughter, Margaret Salinger, and by one of his ex-wives, Joyce Maynard (she 18, he 53, marriage consummated on Salinger's daughter's bed), he would have been an horrendous father in about every way possible. "He hated sickness, which he tried to cure in his children with homeopathy and acupuncture practised with wooden dowels instead of needles; when they cried with pain or his methods failed, he would fly into a rage." "Her experience as a critical reader and as his daughter help her argue that her father's 'special blend of 'Christianized' Eastern mysticism' depends on "a demonization of womanhood and a sacrifice of childhood."

Perhaps he suffered from Schizoid Personality Disorder? He was deeply narcissistic, perhaps pathologically so. He did have a way more than usual dysfunctional family.

It is uncomfortable to me now that a middle aged, older and old man who had an unhealthy interest in teenage girls should have written stories and novels most loved and cherished by teens of either gender.

I mourn the loss of the author whose writing felt so true to me when I was a teen. But do not mourn the man I learned he was.

My sincere condolences to his ex-wives, his son and daughter.
posted by nickyskye at 10:09 PM on January 28, 2010 [22 favorites]


.

Catcher In The Rye is my all-time favorite book. I reread it at least once a year.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:09 PM on January 28, 2010


Thanks for Zooey in the bathtub and Frannie praying on the couch.

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posted by quietalittlewild at 2:50 AM on January 29, 2010


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posted by SageLeVoid at 4:33 AM on January 29, 2010


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posted by kuppajava at 9:06 AM on January 29, 2010


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posted by PostOfficeBuddy at 11:22 AM on January 29, 2010


Every time I go to a bookstore, when I can find one, I pick up at least a couple copies of 9 Stories. If anybody wants to know what great writing is I give them a copy. The only collected works I continually re-read. The only stories, short or long, that honestly and viscerally shock me.
posted by xjudson at 12:03 PM on January 29, 2010


...one of his ex-wives, Joyce Maynard (she 18, he 53, marriage consummated on Salinger's daughter's bed)

While they first may have made the beast with two backs in said location, I do not believe Mr. Salinger and Ms. Maynard ever tied the knot, let alone jumped over the broomstick.
posted by y2karl at 12:10 PM on January 29, 2010


Thanks for the correction y2karl.

JD Salinger's 3 wives were 1. the "minor Nazi Party official" he arrested, 2. Claire Douglas (now a Jungian therapist and author) and 3. the nurse, Colleen O'Neill. Joyce Maynard was a year long relationship between Claire and Colleen.

Maybe it wasn't jumping over the broomstick but oral sex (which may not actually be sex in the Clinton definition)? Here's the cite: " it is interesting to get Margaret's perspective on Dad's choice of paramours. She remembers Maynard as a pathetic young woman whom she could not get close to, nor did she want to; and she recounts her horror at finding out that the skinny little writer and the tall old writer had consummated their weird union on her own bed." (2nd paragraph from the bottom)
posted by nickyskye at 1:58 PM on January 29, 2010


I had never read that New York magazine article about Salinger's post public life and loves until l33tpolicywonk linked to it up above--relationship rumors--in his post here and, therefore, had little idea, despite being long familiar with the Joyce Maynard story, of what a co-ed wrangler he apparently was throughout his life. I guess that I am not surprised at finding these things out. Nor am I surprised at my disappointment at how repeatedly and methodically he is alleged to have pursued his young women. The head may not know not what the heart wants, maybe once or twice. But over and over--c'mon ! Wake up and smell the methylphenidate.

I guess, in that sense, Ghost World is another movie to be added to the Salingeresque canon, at least in so far as Terry Zwigoff's insertion of Seymour and Enid's tryst in the movie--which was definitely not in the graphic novel.

Which makes me wonder what revelations I will find about Jonathan Richman in times to come. One would have to be superhuman to resist temptation in such a position as he finds himself in his post concert meet and greets.
posted by y2karl at 2:51 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Salinger’s solitude, their source of pride -- "A little town fondly recalls one very quiet neighbor."
posted by ericb at 7:40 AM on January 30, 2010


Salinger’s solitude, their source of pride -- "A little town fondly recalls one very quiet neighbor."

Well, hell, that's a much nicer remembrance of the man, than the over-heated recollections of ex-lovers and wives and whatever and this horrid photograph, that just screams mental illness to me. And the knowledge that he actually sought out his fellow man, in a quiet and honorable way, gives me some hope that the guy had some contentedness and peace in his life and routine, and that perhaps there was a consciousness behind that need for privacy and that it wasn't all just decay and pathology.

But it's pretty cool his neighbors, just accepted the man and respect his wishes, for what he was, in life and in death. IT's such an antidote to the horrible people who get rewarded for being narcissistic twits.
posted by Skygazer at 3:25 PM on January 30, 2010


Forgot the link to the "horrid photograph." Oh well.
posted by Skygazer at 3:26 PM on January 30, 2010


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posted by jlbartosa at 7:09 PM on January 30, 2010


. (perfect day)
posted by bananafish at 8:23 AM on January 31, 2010


. (perfect day)
posted by bananafish


A bit of timely trivia. Salinger's first The New Yorker short story, A Perfect Day for Bananafish, was published 60 years ago today on January 31, 1948.
posted by ericb at 8:35 AM on January 31, 2010


*52 years ago*
posted by ericb at 12:04 PM on January 31, 2010


Umm...that would be *62 years ago*

Honey, where's my next G&T?
posted by ericb at 12:05 PM on January 31, 2010


My Affair With JD Salinger
It's tacky, for sure. But then it comes from Taki.
posted by adamvasco at 3:49 AM on February 13, 2010


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