One of my all-time favourite writers, JD Salinger, died today. He had a good innings age-wise, but spent most of his life hiding out as a recluse. I always had dreams of being the one he’d let in for an interview. I did read once the only letters he ever answered were from nubile young ladies! There’s that whole thinly-veiled portrait of him, as a neurotic ladies man pre-hermitude, in Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers though….
Less than a week ago I was foisting Franny & Zooey onto a friend like the Salinger evangelist that I am. He’s tied up in so much of today’s hipster culture (from pop music to the entire Wes Anderson ouevre, and indeed the very concept of teenage angst) and yet people never seem to read beyond Catcher In The Rye. He’s intriguing as a writer because he became so obsessed with the fictional family of New York child geniuses he created, the Glass family, that I sometimes think he stopped publishing to give them privacy. When I finally found myself in New York, wandering the Natural History Museum, snow on my eye-lashes in Central Park, imagining the lives going on inside those gorgeous old brownstones – I thought often of Salinger and his literary children, debating eastern philosophy, scrawling haiku on their wallpaper, chainsmoking in the bath and talking talking talking endlessly in that quaint hip way they had….
Well, wherever you are JD – I hope it’s a perfect day for bananafish.
Illustration by Mike Allred via Hey Oscar Wilde!