Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger - Author "The Catcher In The Rye" 1919 - 2010


A well regarded writer, creator of one of the most controversial books in 20th century American Literature has passed away.

J.D. Salinger, who was thought at one time to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II but who then turned his back on success and adulation, becoming the Garbo of letters, famous for not wanting to be famous, died Wednesday at his home in Cornish, N.H., where he had lived in seclusion for more than 50 years. He was 91.

Mr. Salinger’s literary representative, Harold Ober Associates, announced the death, saying it was of natural causes. “Despite having broken his hip in May,” the agency said, “his health had been excellent until a rather sudden decline after the new year. He was not in any pain before or at the time of his death.”

Mr. Salinger’s literary reputation rests on a slender but enormously influential body of published work: the novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” the collection “Nine Stories” and two compilations, each with two long stories about the fictional Glass family: “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.”

“Catcher” was published in 1951, and its very first sentence, distantly echoing Mark Twain, struck a brash new note in American literature: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

Though not everyone, teachers and librarians especially, was sure what to make of it, “Catcher” became an almost immediate best seller, and its narrator and main character, Holden Caulfield, a teenager newly expelled from prep school, became America’s best-known literary truant since Huckleberry Finn.

With its cynical, slangy vernacular voice (Holden’s two favorite expressions are “phony” and “goddam”), its sympathetic understanding of adolescence and its fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the adult world, the novel struck a nerve in cold war America and quickly attained cult status, especially among the young. Reading “Catcher” used to be an essential rite of passage, almost as important as getting your learner’s permit.

The novel’s allure persists to this day, even if some of Holden’s preoccupations now seem a bit dated, and it continues to sell tens of thousands of copies a year in paperback. Mark David Chapman, who assassinated John Lennon in 1980, even said that the explanation for his act could be found in the pages of “The Catcher in the Rye.” In 1974 Philip Roth wrote, “The response of college students to the work of J. D. Salinger indicates that he, more than anyone else, has not turned his back on the times but, instead, has managed to put his finger on whatever struggle of significance is going on today between self and culture."

As Holden Caulfield would say..."Goddamn!"

R.I.P. The Celebrity reaper strikes again!

Obit and Image - New York Times

2 comments:

Kull said...

Forgive me if I contact you via an off-topic comment on your blog, I found no other way to.

Chances are that you are already familiar with the Kevin Singer case, a lifetime inmate of a Wisconsin correctional facility who has been prohibited to enjoy his D&D games with cellmates out of incredibly bigoted and unrealistic fears he was forming a "gang".

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/us/27dungeons.html

An online petition has been started to have that absurd ruling reviewed and I think that, as fellow gamers, I thought you may have wanted to support the effort, showing that RPGs can be potent educational tools for the acquiring of social, cooperative and reading/writing skills from which the prison population could surely benefit.

The more time passes the more I am convinced that the u.s. prison system is not a corrective tool with which to re-educate and win back to society inmates but a kind of medieval torture system with which to abuse and degrade those unlucky enough to enter it.

http://www.petitiononline.com/d20d12d8/

We all know that D&D is kiddies' stuff compared to other RPGs, but I really ask you to take a minute of your time, click the link above and leave a signature,

please, there is a person who is being denied the solace and comfort of letting his mind and his imagination soar while his body is restricted in a cell, and, if you can, circulate the petition's URL link among your fellow gamers and friends.

Emilio Torres Garcia said...

Matt Salinger has a son, Matt Salinger, right?