We're just learning that famously reclusive American author J.D. Salinger died yesterday at 91. Ninety-one is a good, long run, so there's nothing to be said here along the lines of "so young" or "too soon" (though, in some ways, it's always too soon). Because he stopped writing and hid from the public eye for so long, Salinger was more myth than man during my lifetime. He came to stand in for his most famous creation, Holden Caufield, and Holden came to stand in for sad, lost outsiders in pop culture in a way that eventually came to do the character and his novel a disservice (I remember thinking, while re-watching (500) Days of Summer recently, that the movie wore is allegiance to The Catcher in the Rye a little too on its sleeve).
Anyway, I've never been one for eloquence in the face of death, so I've gathered instead a few pop culture influenced thoughts:
- Franny and Zooey was Judy's favourite book on Once and Again when she added herself to her Book Lovers wall.
- The "Fuck You" monologue from 25th Hour is probably my favourite reference to The Catcher in the Rye in anything I've ever seen, in no small part because it references my favourite passage of the book.
- Pretty much the only thing about the late 90s Fred Savage-starring sitcom Working that I remember is the episode where Fred finds out his boss never read Catcher and recommends it, only for it to convince the boss that he should run away in order to be more like Holden. Specifically, he wanted to ride the rails, hobo-style, and I was disappointed when I read the book, and Holden didn't do that. Holden takes the train like a regular passenger and is depressed crumby luggage. I think the point was that eventually you get too old to read The Catcher in the Rye for the first time, the same way I was told that I would outgrow Ferris Buller's Day Off after I finished school. Neither of these things are true.
Goodbye, J.D. Hope no one writes "fuck you" on your tombstone.