Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger 1919-2010

This is another hard one for me. This man’s writing was brilliant, the work of a genius, whose words exist on many levels for many people. Author J.D. Salinger has passed away of natural causes yesterday in New Hampshire.

Salinger’s best known work is the legendary “The Catcher in the Rye” with its controversial protagonist Holden Caulfield. This book, despite the screams of parents and right wing nutjobs, has become mandatory reading in high schools and colleges.

“The Catcher in the Rye” is a work I have always thought should be read several times at different ages. You get a different perspective on the characters and the story when you read it at fourteen than you do at twenty-four or at even forty-four. It’s the difference between a cool kid and a sociopath. Unfortunately, over the years, several unbalanced folks have not seen the difference, and used the book as a guide for their madness. John Lennon’s assassin stands out as only one dark example.

“Catcher” is not Salinger’s only work, it should be noted. I highly recommend especially “Nine Stories” and “Franny and Zooey.” Unfortunately Salinger has not published since 1961. And therein lies the other reason he has become famous – his self-imposed exile from public life. He has rarely been heard from except regarding legal matters to protect his work.

We have lost one of the true greats. Fortunately the work of J.D. Salinger lives on.

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