Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger Dead at 91

Almost 60 years after the publication of his only novel, the seminal Catcher in the Rye, the mysterious and reclusive Jerome David Salinger is dead, just a few weeks after his 91st birthday. The New York Times obit is here:
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.”
Last year, Salinger's name came up on these pages quite often in relation to an unauthorized sequel to Catcher that generated comment around the world. We talked about it here, here and here.

Today, the world mourns Salinger, possibly as much for the novels we never saw as much as anything else: it's not as though we, as a culture, knew him as well as we would have liked.

Time magazine writes about Salinger here. The CBC is here. The National Post is here. The Guardian here. Expect many, many more still to come.

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