Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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J.D. Salinger is dead, at age 91.

I was never a fan of his most famous work, Catcher in the Rye. Maybe I read it too late, in my early 20s. Maybe the itch it scratches just isn't one I have. Catcher is supposed to address adolescent angst and anomie, and my angst and anomie tended towards the adult varieties even when I was twelve. I never made a very good adolescent.

But I loved the other works in his very short oeuvre: the short novels Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction, and the short fiction in the collection Nine Stories. Salinger's writing is clever and entertaining at the line level, and if the stories are long on character and wit, and short on plot, who cares? Plot wasn't something Salinger cared about, and the reader is so entertained he doesn't care either.

Salinger was rumored to have had a problem with alcohol through most of the past half century, which depressed his literary output. A torrid affair with a much younger female admirer ended with his former lover auctioning off his love letters at Sotheby's. Ouch.

Salinger is said to have died with fifty unpublished novels in his safe. Salinger has been so loved by readers that at least a few of these will undoubtedly see the light. The prospect makes me both fearful, and hopeful.
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