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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Salinger - What to say...

I know I'm a little bit delayed in putting my two cents into the life and death of author J.D. Salinger. Like almost everyone and their mom, I read Catcher in the Rye for a high school literature class. I'll state here that I loved that book then and I still love it now.

Of course, I owned (and still do) a battered copy of the old red cover version:

I wish I knew where my old paper was that I wrote on it. I compared (I think) Holden's life to my own and I believe I came up with a lot of similarities. Which is odd...because reading a few other people's opinions, it doesn't seem that a whole lot of people still resonate with this classic. But I did. Yes, a teenage girl who played basketball and who lived in Alaska could relate to a fairly affluent Upper East New York City boy.

I think it's because we all hit that growing-up period when you realize that you are at a point of no return. Growing up is scary. One minute you are a fairly intelligent and innocent kid and the next you are one of them. One of those idiotic adults who do stupid things like work at awful jobs for too many hours, or cheat on you wife/husband, or all those mindless things we do as adults. Not that I've DONE those specific things, but you know what I mean.

I think I was smarter as a teenager than I am now. I can only imagine what today's teenagers think of us adults. Being an adult is almost like a descent into madness. Is that what Holden felt? Like we either need to go mad or not, but watching the descent is the terrifying part. How do you stop it?

Anyway, like it, love it, or hate it, The Catcher in the Rye made an impact on a lot of people. I was even more fascinated with J.D. Salinger's removal from the public eye. I never understood that.

That is until recently.

I was asked to read and review a book called Salinger: The Classical Critical and Personal Portrait by More Than Twenty of His Contemporaries...
At first I thought (after wondering about the extremely long subtitle), "Wow, that was fast!". They've already published a book on Salinger. But then I looked closer. This is a reprint from 1962 BEFORE J.D. Salinger removed himself from the public eye. And I thought, "No wonder!". I would retreat too! Can you imagine publishing a few short stories and one novel and then this comes out? A whole book of your contemporaries critiquing you. And not just your work but a CRITICAL and PERSONAL portrait. Wow. No wonder.

So I have yet to read this but will let you know what I think about everyone's critical and personal portraits of one of my favorite authors. And here's to you, J.D. Salinger...I hope you had a wonderful and full life. And thank you.

"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 "F*** you" right under your nose." - The Catcher in the Rye

“I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.” - Franny and Zooey

"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's." - J.D. Salinger


  1. I think you are the only person I've ever known who liked that book. :-) I've never read it. It was not required at my high school and I've never had the motivation to try.

  2. Amanda, you might want to skip my blog post today, because I am sorry to say I really didn't like The Catcher in The Rye. I keep apologising to everyone; it just didn't work for me.

  3. It has been so long since I read Catcher in the Rye...30+ years. I need to read it again to have an opinion..LOL

  4. Brava! A beautiful reminiscence indeed. I don't blame him for retreating, either. How intimidating!

  5. I liked this book when I read it in HS. I remember though that my Mom was not a fan and tried to convince me otherwise.


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