Thursday, January 28, 2010

I don't even know what I was running for - I guess I just felt like it.

Image from Time Magazine...

I read online today that JD Salinger - author of the novel Catcher in the Rye - died at age 91. This isn't surprising, but more sad and a moment to reflect on his influence on literature and society. I quote this from the Washington Post:

Salinger was writing for adults, but teenagers from all over identified with the novel's themes of alienation, innocence and fantasy, not to mention the luck of having the last word. "Catcher" presents the world as an ever-so-unfair struggle between the goodness of young people and the corruption of elders, a message that only intensified with the oncoming generation gap.

Novels from Evan Hunter's "The Blackboard Jungle" to Curtis Sittenfeld's "Prep," movies from "Rebel Without a Cause" to "The Breakfast Club," and countless rock 'n' roll songs echoed Salinger's message of kids under siege. One of the great anti-heroes of the 1960s, Benjamin Braddock of "The Graduate," was but a blander version of Salinger's narrator.

I didn't read Catcher until I was in my early 20's, so perhaps it was a bit too late for me, but I did appreciate his themes of alienation and innocence. My youngest brother Sam read my copy, and it definitely resonated far more with him.

I feel like his legacy will be just as much tied to Catcher in the Rye and even Franny and Zooey as it will be with his rejection and seclusion from society. The society that Holden Caufield grapples with Salinger eventually rejects outright, fighting every attempt to be out of the limelight.

It's been real, JD Salinger. Enjoyed your book, as did countless others.

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