Thursday, January 28, 2010


91 they say. A good long run. Be interesting if unpublished work is now made public.

As a young man I had mixed feelings about THE CATCHER IN THE RYE and in fact don't have the original paperback anymore, having given it away decades ago.

The whole preppy thing bugged me, but the writing was so tight and right for the subject I couldn't deny his unique genius.

Out of all his published work, which I read more than once back in the day, the only one I kept around and still have is the paperback edition of RAISE HIGH THE ROOF BEAM CARPENTERS AND SEYMOUR AN INTRODUCTION.

I still find the writing in these two long "stories" (to my mind more like excerpts of longer works never finished or never published) truly original, and engaging. Though in my post-brain operation reading perspective, I don't find them quite as easy or as inviting as I did not that long ago. But I still find the language on almost any page I open randomly to impressively his, not so much in the combination or juxtaposition of individual words, but in his paragraphs.

He made his paragraphs—whether one short sentence or seemingly endless pages long—the vessels for his story-telling goods. They carried them into some almost ethereal realm of individual obsessiveness couched as casual conversation.

Or at least that's the best way I can describe what I dig about the two stories in this book, and remember from the others.

Here's a link to the NY Times obit, kind of snarky but fills in some gaps.


Elisabeth said...

Thanks for this, Michael. I am pleased to have now read the NY Times obit on Salinger. I've only read the Catcher, but Salinger's fame is well and truly known here in Australia, too.

He was a fascinating man and writer. In time we'll come to reconstruct a story around him that might satisfy some and then it will change again and again. Who knows what they'll be saying about him in 100 years time.

As I wrote on Kass's blog: ah the cult of the writer, especially one who makes himself into a mystery by refusing to cooperate with the media and the world's demands.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lal,
Interesting, isn't it, that Salinger's obit starts on page one of today's NY Times, and continues for more than a page and a half inside, while Howard Zinn's obit gets a bit more than 1/4 of page 10 of the Business section. What's front page news in today's Times may be nothing more than a footnote in tomorrow's People's History of the United States. Bob Berner

Toby T. said...

That voice, too. It, and his hyper-sensitive eye to detail, helped create the New Journalism and much of the memoir craze. What was "Catcher" if not the novel as memoir? Again, that voice. Where would Tom Wolfe be without it?