Wednesday, February 17, 2010


My friend Cammy loaned me "The Catcher In The Rye" when I was 16 years old. I thought that the book had JUST been written as it was so evocative to me of my own time, not ten years earlier. At that time, I agreed with Holden Caulfield that the worst thing a person could be was a "phony". I told all of my family, friends, and classmates about the book. After that, Cammy and I devoured "Nine Stories" and after Cammy and I drifted apart after high school, "Franny and Zooey", "Raise High The Roofbeams" and "Seymour: An Introduction" brought us back together for a short time.

I called Cammy today and, although we hadn't spoken for years, I felt that only she would have the same poignant feelings that I have about the death of Jerome David Salinger.

How can I count the ways that Salinger influenced me and my life? One of the first questions I asked my husband was if he'd read Salinger. We probably wouldn't have had another date, but, fortunately, his answers on all of the first three questions were "correct" ("Do you drink?", "Are you opposed to the war?", and "Have you read Salinger?")

I've read everything by and about Salinger (how else would I know the word "bildungsroman"?) and belong to "The Dead Caulfields", a website devoted to Salinger. Just like Holden did with his favorite author, I wanted to meet Salinger. To quote Holden: "What really knocks me out is a book, that when you're 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 when you felt like it. That doesn't happen much though." I felt that way, but of course I didn't meet him.

My lifelong love affair with Thomas Hardy's work began because Holden said how he loved "ole Eustacia Vye". I can remember asking my senior high school English literature teacher, Miss Digman, why we didn't read Hardy and she immediately assigned "The Return of The Native" to me. When I began work, one of my first luxuries was a subscription to "The New Yorker" magazine because it was Salinger's magazine publisher. I can remember when "Hapworth 16, 1924" took up almost the entire issue of "The New Yorker".

My passion about the First Amendment was stirred because school systems wanted to ban "Catcher".

How many boys have been named "Holden" as an homage?

How sad when the psychopaths distorted the message.

1 comment:

Mona Lisa said...

Zooey Daschanel is named for the Salinger character. I wonder if her parents actually read the book as Zooey was Franny's brother!