JD salinger died today. he was 91 and he’d been hiding from the world since the ’60s.
I heard about his books way before I read them but I never heard any details, just people (in tv) mentioning him.
in my first year of university, I read ‘Catcher in the rye’ I was 19 and mentally no older than 16. and I loved the book. not in a ‘omg best book ever I must do the same ’ sort of way, I just liked it, it was different than everything I’d read up to that point. and then I read his other works, his short stories and I loved every single one of them. for different reasons, some more,some less. but I loved them all. they all seemed real and honest and familiar.
It was as if he thought in a similar way to me and I’d never found that before. up to this day the only author to make me feel like that are Salinger and Keith Lowe. I wonder if this is what Holden meant by an author who’s like a friend.
you like books for many different reasons. his were fun, were intriguing, they made me think and imagine and wonder and feel a part of his world. He,Salinger, often said he was in this world, not a part of it. and in a way, I felt that too. always looking for a place that felt comfortable, where I could fit in, in his words, that wasn’t full of phoneys. I’m not saying I’m Holden Caufield,not at all, but I do understand him, a bit. ALienation is a part of life. especially when you’re a teenager and you feel you’re the only person who’s ever felt this way.
I know many people,I’m one of them, who want to do what he did. retreat to a cave somewhere and talk to one. but like Stephen Fry said, unless that cave has a decent internet connection, it’s not gonna happen. He didn’t care about the internet so he went.
It’s rumoured he had shelves full of stories about the Glass family. and I wonder if they’ll be published and if I’d like to read them. I mean, of course I’d like to read them. but they’re his. and he clearly didn’t want them published, did he? why, nobody’s sure, but he didn’t.
his heirs can be like many many others and just published and people will buy them. I would be one when Holden realises that he can’t hold onto the freedom of childhood forever, and that he has to let Phoebe grow up, regardless of the inevitable onset of ‘Phoniness’of them. but there’s still the question of respect. there’s many things I’ve written I’m not sure I’d want them to see the light of day. they feel too rough or imperfect or personal to release them.
but then again maybe someone would like them. maybe someone needs to read them.
maybe there’s who knows how many hidden treasures in his house in New Hampshire. treasures that can change how we see the world, how we saw him.
what I do know is that reacting with “yes! finally he’s dead!!! now we’ll see what he’s been working on!” is not the appropiate reaction. to me,anyway. I know I’m nobody, but it feels wrong and offensive to celebrate his death for hypothetical works and it doesn’t seem to be the way a fan should react. I’ve seen others conflicted, sad about his dead and excited about the prospect of new works. that’s more like it. because he was a person, truly and whole, not a machine. and he said he was writing for himself, not us. and I like that, that he wrote cause he had to, not for money or glory. of course, he already had that.
I really do feel very sad about his death. it’s the first time an author I loved, whose work I admired, dies.
I never read David Foster Wallace. I still haven’t. I love Arthur C.Clarke but I’m not even sure I even knew he was alive before he died.
and it makes me wonder, how will I feel when Neil Gaiman dies? or Terry Pratchett? or JK Rowling? or Nick Hornby?
I could go on and on and on…
2009 took a lot of great,talented people but none of them meant much to me. Salinger does. He’s very important. The kind of writer that had a very clear influence on my personality, and probably on my writing too. If I’m ever famous, my wikipedia article would list him amoung my influencers.
I feel like I want to do something. pay him tribute somehow. but I don’t know what to do. I just wish he knew how many lives he touched. I’m not sure he would’ve cared, but I wish he’d known.