“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”
The funny thing is (as Holden might also say), it was J.D. Salinger’s characters — not the author — I wanted to spend time with. Maybe because Salinger’s famous reclusiveness made him famously creepy. We clung to every shred of rumor about that New Hampshire compound. Shook our heads at every lawsuit to prevent publication of anything by or about him.
It just so happens that I was thinking yesterday about what would happen when J.D. Salinger dies. Will someone publish all those novels and stories he’s been writing, holed up in his house for decades and decades?
I have been suggesting, the past few weeks, that Warren read “Catcher in the Rye.” He’s just so damned adolescent right now that I think he might really appreciate it.
The funny thing about Salinger is that every time I decide to reread those scant few volumes, I just know I will have outgrown it, that it was an adolescent obsession. But it holds up over time — especially the stories.
Here’s something you probably haven’t thought about in a long time: J.D. Salinger is still alive, and just turned 90 on New Year’s Day.
The New York Times article talks about an unpublished work named “Hapworth,” which I’ve never seen. But I have copies of copies of what I was told decades ago, when it was given to me, was galley proofs of the complete uncollected short stories, volume 1. Doing a quick Google now, it seems it was in fact published but is hard to find. There are two stories that are sketches for Catcher, at least one Teddy story, and some great titles, like “The Heart of a Broken Story,” “The Long Debut of Lois Taggett, and “This Sandwich Has No Mayonnaise.”
One cold winter break about seven years ago, I re-devoured these and the little paperback versions of all the published books. And I’m not sure I agree that the themes have lost their relevance. We’ve just grown up and forgotten how alienation feels. That concern with phoniness v. authenticity is developmentally adolescent as kids cast about for where they see themselves fitting in.
And who, in this age of helicopter parents (welcome to my black-hawk-down world ), wouldn’t find the Glass parents a breath of fresh air?