I suppose a post dedicated to J.D. Salinger is in order, seeing as he died this past week at the age of 91.
I have heard a lot of people voice some harsh criticisms about Catcher in the Rye, and most arguments boil down to the fact that they believe it’s just an overrated novel. However, I have absolutely no problem with admitting that I adored the novel when I read it in high school. People complained, and still complain, that Holden Caulfield is too angsty, Salinger’s style is tedious, there is no plot, etc. Perhaps it is a testament to my gravitation toward neurotic characters, but I liked all of that. I liked it enough that I immediately went out and bought pretty much every work of Salinger’s that I could get my hands on.
As cliche as this may sound [and I know it’s really, really cliche], I think the people who love Salinger the most are the people who see themselves in his characters. I share this with trepidation, but I distinctly remember rereading Franny and Zooey in my second year of university, and it felt as though the things that I was reading on the page could have been things that came out of my mouth. I guess the same disillusionment that I was feeling [with my university experience, mainly] was parallel to Franny’s and it endeared me even more than ever to the novel. I don’t mean to cheapen or defame Salinger’s writing or his characters by making this claim. But I feel like reading can be a bit of a vain experience sometimes, I guess. It’s hard not to love a book when you feel such a profound sympathy with the character you are reading about. And all of Salinger’s characters are so vivid and so real and so highly developed, whether they appear in a novel or a short story.
Part of me is dreading to see how things will work out with his estate. As much as I love Salinger, I don’t think I agree with the publication of the private works of a man who preferred to live in obscurity for most of his life. According to his daughter, he was comfortable with the posthumous publication of some of his works though? I guess we’ll see!
1919 – 2010