"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

People Never Notice Anything

Dig this piece on J.D. Salinger, “Holden Caulfield’s Goddamn War” over at Vanity Fair (taken from Kenneth Slawenski’s new book on Salinger):  

In the autumn of 1950, at his home in Westport, Connecticut, J. D. Salinger completed The Catcher in the Rye. The achievement was a catharsis. It was confession, purging, prayer, and enlightenment, in a voice so distinct that it would alter American culture.

Holden Caulfield, and the pages that held him, had been the author’s constant companion for most of his adult life. Those pages, the first of them written in his mid-20s, just before he shipped off to Europe as an army sergeant, were so precious to Salinger that he carried them on his person throughout the Second World War. Pages of The Catcher in the Rye had stormed the beach at Normandy; they had paraded down the streets of Paris, been present at the deaths of countless soldiers in countless places, and been carried through the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. In bits and pieces they had been re-written, put aside, and re-written again, the nature of the story changing as the author himself was changed. Now, in Connecticut, Salinger placed the final line on the final chapter of the book. It is with Salinger’s experience of the Second World War in mind that we should understand Holden Caulfield’s insight at the Central Park carousel, and the parting words of The Catcher in the Rye: “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” All the dead soldiers.

[Picture by Lorna Burt]


1 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 20, 2011 11:42 am

Nope, still hate this book with a passion.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 20, 2011 11:53 am

That's so funny, I was just talking to a loyal Banterite recently who said it is still his favorite!

I only read it once, when I was 16 or 17. I recall liking it at the time.

3 BronxToCT   ~  Jan 20, 2011 1:02 pm

It had a very strong effect on me growing up in the 60's -- re-read it many times since. Even read a chaper on the air during a marathon read of the book on my college radio station in 1972. The best thing for me, though, is that my 15-year-old daughter, who's really not much of a reader, loved the book when she read it for school this fall.

4 Just Fair   ~  Jan 20, 2011 2:17 pm

I love this book. Re-reading many of the classics always makes me think just how much they shaped me as an adult. My dad finallly read it a few months ago at the age of 66. His take, "Holden was an asshole." : )

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver