Sad To See You Leaving 2010: JD Salinger

by Ray_North on December 26, 2010

I have two older sisters. When I was sixteen one of them lived above a pub with six other eighteen year old girls, the other introduced me to good music and literature – they both contributed to my education.

When Renee North gave me a copy of The Catcher In The Rye back in the Summer of 1985, I was 15 and at a perfect age to be swept along by a story of a teenager of a similar age leaving school in search of adventure. It was a perfect age to be submerged into his world and his reaction to what he sees as the phoniness of the adults who were in control of everything in his life. Though I wasn’t outwardly a particularly rebellious teenager, I definitely got it and Holden Caulfield became a hero to me, just as has been to thousands of teenagers before and since. The Catcher In The Rye was published in 1951 and has become a byword in teenage rebellion but it wasn’t so much the rebellion that appealed to me, what excited me most was the sense that this teenager could run away and explore a big city – at that time, all I wanted to do was leave my sleepy seaside town and go to London – and Caufield kind of suggested that that was possible.

I read Franny and Zooey and Raise High The Roofbeams, Carpenter soon after. In some ways these works had an even more profound effect upon me and in particular the short story of the boy who tells everyone that he is the reincarnation of an ancient monk and predicts that he will die very soon, shortly before diving to his death, into a swimming pool which has no water in it  - I remember being incredibly shocked by the way in which this death (which as I’m writing this twenty odd years on, seems faintly comic) was depicted.

Shortly after publishing Franny and Zooey, Salinger went into self-imposed exile, hiding himself away and guarding his privacy with an obsessive zeal. This just added to mystique that surrounded him as people wondered if during this time he had secretly written a whole lifetime of work that would be discovered upon his death, or whether he had simply gone mad. The answer may be a bit of both, but we’ll wait and see.

For me though JD Salinger will always be sitting in the back garden of my parent’s home the most comfortable and happy place in the world and dreaming of getting as far away as possible.

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