EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J.—
...and now J.D. Salinger has died??? So many artists who spoke to me at certain points in my life, all dying within a relatively concentrated period of time? Damn...
In the interest of honoring Salinger's distrust of "phonies," I might as well disclose early on that, other than The Catcher in the Rye, I haven't yet read much of Salinger's other work. (I guess I know now what will be next in my reading queue after I finish Farber on Film!) In fact, it was only after his death was announced today that I finally got around to reading his famous short story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish"...and, in addition to being a deeply affecting piece of writing (its ending is as blunt-force stunning as the impact of the bullet that Seymour empties into his brain), it vividly reminded me of what I loved about Catcher when I acquainted myself with it during my high school years.
I like to think that one of my better qualities is that I always try to be honest with people, both in person and online, about the kind of person I am; I think The Catcher in the Rye played a huge part in shaping that quality in me. Also—to be perfectly honest—it spoke profoundly to some of the darker emotions I was feeling during my adolescent years, as someone who always felt rather outside of the loop in many ways, particularly socially. Admittedly, I haven't re-read the book in years, and even after reading "Bananafish" tonight, I do wonder, years removed from those emotionally tumultuous high-school years, if I'd embrace it with nearly the same passion that I did back when I was younger. (In the back of my mind, I wonder if Salinger's vision, casting as it does a gleaming light on the innocence of childhood, has begun to come off as merely sentimental as I wade deeper into adulthood. Or have I really become that cynical? I shudder at the latter notion.) But I won't deny the impact The Catcher in the Rye had on me...and I can't imagine its brilliance simply as a piece of writing has dimmed one iota over the years.
And now, I will end this remembrance here, reserving to right to say more about Salinger once I get to the rest of his work. Nevertheless, I thought this particular loss, and my own personal (if perhaps not wholly well-informed) investment in said loss, was still worth noting here.