Friday, January 29, 2010

JD Salinger

JD Salinger died yesterday, a recluse in New Hampshire, and the mainstream media's reaction seem mostly to be, How dare he not allow us 40 years of worship, hype, and fake flattery. We could have sold a lot of magazines about the women coming in and out of his lair.

Anyway, good for him for telling them all to go to hell. (Of course, you can do that when a book you wrote over 50 years ago still sells 250,000 copies a year.)

Anyway, I never understood all the noise about Catcher in the Rye. I always thought Franny and Zooey was much better, with its intimate and intelligent banter between siblings, a deep familial love that bordered on the romantic, young people who were impossibly insightful and much too smart (and too despairing) for their own good. I really wanted to be one of them -- it didn't matter which.

They lead into other such stories that I like a lot -- The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving, shades of The World According to Garp, and tones that led to A Separate Peace, the first novel I ever loved. Even the movie Stealing Home -- they were all of a piece. There aren't movies like that anymore -- at least, any that I've seen. They belonged in a certain time, before green screens and before CGI.

But it was still a time when literature mattered. Now, if what what you want to say isn't on video -- even a 3-minute clip on YouTube -- who can be bothered?


There are rumors that Salinger was writing in secret, 15 or more books, and that they will be released now that he is dead. I hope not a wit of this is true.


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