Today, the world lost a legend. Notoriously reclusive but incredibly talented author J.D. Salinger passed away this morning at his home in New Hampshire. Though he was rumored to be a strange man with a lot of issues, not knowing him on a personal level leaves me only the ability to judge him by his works. And in that case, he was brilliant.
Even as an avid reader and aspiring author, I never much cared for reading in school. I felt like most of the books they made us read (I don’t want to name names here but My Antonia and The Scarlet Letter made a G.E.D. and cosmetology school seem like positive alternatives to school). But I remember reading Catcher in the Rye and feeling like I was uncovering an entire world buried beneath a stone.
Recently, I’ve been struggling to pick a concept for my next novel. I know that YA novels are in demand and more likely to make me an overnight sensation, but when I think about writing from the perspective of a teenager my eyeballs kind of roll up in my head and I feel like a sell-out. But then I think about all the amazing coming-of-age books out there like Catcher and I realize that there is still an art to be found in that genre. And no one knew that better than Salinger.
I’ve been struggling lately to get through Brunonia Barry’s “The Lace Reader” as of late (not because it’s not a good book but because I just can’t seem to get into the subject matter). I might have to take a break and re-read Catcher in the Rye and maybe Franny and Zooey in memory of one of my favorite authors. It’s supposed to rain all weekend and I can think of nothing better than curling up in bed with a good book. It’s like Holden says in Chapter 3:
“What really knocks me out is a book, when you’re all done reading it, you wished the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”
Here’s to you, J.D. Salinger. Thanks for making my teenage years seem more meaningful and less lonely.