J.D.Salinger, b: Jan 1st 1919, d: Jan 27th 2010

January 28, 2010 at 8:47 pm (Jim D, literature, mental health)

He left us just four slim volumes and I’m still not sure whether any of them are particularly good. But ‘Catcher’ is inescapably part of my adolescence (yours too, I bet). And I once knew a girl called Esme who claimed she was named for ‘Love and Squalor’.

Time magazine is first with an obituary – and it’s worth reading. I particularly liked the following (about Salinger’s legenadary reclusivity): “Pynchon figured out how to turn his back on the world with a wink and a Cheshire Cat smile. Salinger did it with a scowl.”

The final Chapter (#26)  of Catcher:

THAT’s all I’m going to tell about. I could probably tell you what I did after I went home, and how I got sick and all, and what school I’m supposed to go to next fall, after I get out of here, but I don’t feel like it. I really don’t. That stuff doesn’t interest me too much right now.

A lot of people, especially this one psychoanalyst guy they have here, keeps asking me if I’m going to apply myself when I go back to school next September. It’s such a stupid question, in my opinion. I mean how do you know what you’re going to do till you do it? The answer is, you don’t. I think I am, but how do I know? I swear it’s a stupid question.

D.B. isn’t as bad as the rest of them, but he keeps asking me a lot of questions, too. He drove over last Saturday with this English babe that’s in this new picture he’s writing. She was pretty affected, but very good-looking. Anyway, one time when she went to he ladies’s room, way the hell down the other wing, D.B. asked me what I thought about all this stuff I just finished telling you about. I didn’t know what the hell to say. If you want to know the truth, I don’t know what I think about it. I’m sorry I told so many people about it. About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. 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.


  1. Matt said,

    I’m not sure about Salinger’s reclusivity: OK he didn’t do interviews or have his photograph taken for the press but I think he was well-known in the town where he lived. The same thing’s happened to Neil Armstrong: because he’d rather do what he wants to do in retirement rather than have a film crew crashing through his house every day the media label him camera shy, prickly etc.

  2. Janine said,

    I thought Catcher In The Rye was quite a good read. But I am utterly bemused at how so many people claim it was ground-breaking, the best book they had ever read, etc etc.

  3. Rosie said,

    I remember enjoying it as a teenager partly I think because it was full of swearing, which made it a bit exciting and my friends and I would talk about it in thrilled and shocked tones. I even started using the word “goddam” which wasn’t a natural swear word where I lived. But it bore no relation to my own life at all – probably less than Little Women, say. However, I may not have been as hypersensitive about other people’s phoniness and hypocrisy as Holden was.

    I did go on to read Salinger’s other writings but didn’t really get them.

  4. Rosie said,

    Matt’s point – yes, in journalist speak “reclusive” can mean “can’t be arsed talking to reporters”.

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