Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"I've survived a lot of things, and I'll probably survive this."

J.D. Salinger's passing bums me out, but this article about Salinger by Lillian Ross got me thinking about his utter awesome-ness.

I've probably read Catcher in the Rye more than 20 times, and loved it more each time, but I don't think it'd be half as wonderful without J.D. Salinger being a total punk in real life. He saw the connection between being a writer and being narcissistic, and he avoided ruin by isolating himself from people who wanted to lavish him with praise--something he considered damaging.

In the New Yorker article, Lillian Ross says:

"The older and crankier he got, the more convinced he was that in the end all writers get pretty much what’s coming to them: the destructive praise and flattery, the killing attention and appreciation. ...He talked about how easily writers could become vain, complaining that they got puffed up by the same 'authorities' who approved putting monosodium glutamate in baby food."

Have you read The Catcher in the Rye? Should we have a group reading of the original YA novel? I'll lead the discussion. Let me know if you're in, or if you're just a crummy phony.


  1. Yeah, I read it in high school. I have to admit, when I read it I didn't really get it. I should really read it again.

  2. I had never heard of it until Mark Chapman blamed it for his shooting John Lennon and after that I didn't want to like the book and so I didn't.
    But I think I'm grown up enough now to be objective about it. I hope.

  3. Laura, The Lennon aspect definitely haunts me. We just have to remember that Chapman was crazy. I have actually thought about this in depth. If anything, reading Catcher opens your eyes to how lonely and depressed Chapman must have been to relate to Caulfield on such a level.

  4. Just catching up on blogs, Marie. Sorry I missed this. I loved Catcher in the Rye in high school. And in college. Not as much now. But there's no question Salinger was brilliant.

    Minor point about crummy phonies: didn't Salinger spell it crumby? That always bothered me, for some reason.