Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger — 1919-2010

J.D. Salinger has died.

If the only American novel you read in high school was The Catcher in the Rye, then that’s okay. A lot of writers try to capture the voice of youth as it struggles with the major events of their life examined in seemingly trivial detail, but Mr. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield spoke the truth and achingly so.

I read the book in the summer of 1968, after my disastrous freshman year at a New England boarding school. Perhaps that’s why it resonated with me so much. I was never as cynical as Holden, but I knew exactly why he was.

Mr. Salinger lived most of his life as a recluse in Cornish, New Hampshire. He last published an original work in 1965, and he gave his last interview in 1980. I suspect he believed that he had shared with us all he wanted to say in his books and only wanted to be left in peace. So be it.

Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.