Friday, January 29, 2010

J. D. Salinger - 1919 -2010

J. D. Salinger began his writing career with short stories, contributing mainly to The New Yorker Magazine. Two of his most famous short stories that appeared in that magazine were A Perfect Day for Banafish (1948), the story of a suicidal war veteran, and For Esme With Love and Squalor (1950).

But it was with the publication of A Catcher in the Rye (1951)that Salinger received major critical and popular attention. A Catcher in the Rye has been said to be reminiscent of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in a setting of modern angst and rebellion. Holden Caulfield, our “hero,” is an adolescent boarding school student attempting to run away from what he considers a phony adult world. For many who read this book, it became the quintessential story of teenage confusion and unrest. From the very first sentence we know we are in a world of loneliness and brutal honesty.

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

Franny and Zooey, two longer short stories about the Glass Family, was published in 1955.

After a relatively small literary output, Salinger retired to New Hampshire where he lived in virtual seclusion, never being photographed or interviewed for over 50 years. Salinger died of natural causes, at the age of 91. Meg

[For more details read Salinger’s New York Times’ obituary and also some more extensive New York Times and Wikipedia articles. The story of a fascinating impromptu encounter with J. D. Salinger by a fan is related on NPR. ]



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