RIP, J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger died yesterday at age 91.

In a way, it’s fitting that Howard Zinn and J.D. Salinger died so close to each other.

Both were iconic figures who spent their adult lives in New England.

Both wrote highly controversial books that many considered classics in their field, even if those works were not my favorites by these authors.

Both had a distinct attitude toward human contact: the gregarious Zinn could not get enough of it, while the famously reclusive Salinger had as little of it as possible during the last four decades of his life.

And both died within a day of each other after living at least 87 years.

I never fully got my heart into The Catcher in the Rye. 

I know more than 65 million copies have been sold.

I remember that Hisao Kushi, one of my closest childhood friends, loved the work so much that he made it the basis for many of his college application essays.  

And I know that Dunreith has said that many of her former students at Wilbraham Monson Academy identified strongly with, and grooved to, Holden Caufield’s alienated, angst-ridden and profanity-laden  journey.

The book just didn’t move me the same way.

I preferred Nine Stories of the three Salinger works I read, with Franny and Zooey coming in second.

That said, it is important to acknowledge the passing of a man who created a work that was the most censored book in America’s libraries and schools for more than 20 years, starting in 1961, and from which millions of adolescents have drawn succor since its publication nearly six decades ago.


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