J.D. Salinger Dies

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One of my favourite books will always be Catcher in the Rye (you should see my dilapidated copy!), which I first read as a young girl, and which most people know was written by J.D. Salinger.

I’m sorry to be a day late on this but I’m sad to announce the famous author passed away, at the age of 91, on January 27, 2010. It is reported that he was healthy but experienced a sudden decline this year.

Like many of us, Salinger was apparently very attached to Catcher in the Rye, and passionately disallowed a film adaptation as well as a sequel to the novel. I have to say he won my heart with these actions as well as his book, because I love to see an author stick so strongly to what he believes in, which in this case is the sacredness and preservation of his art. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate some books made into films (although I won’t read a sequel unless it’s by the original author) (my favourite adaptation is probably Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but I wonder what he would have said about it?). But Salinger’s book meant so much to him he cared nothing for fame and advancement. In fact, he was reclusive, and hadn’t published anything since 1965.

There’s something to an author who produces only one novel, that then becomes wildly influential and successful and even, later, famously banned, and then never publishes another (stories yes, but not a novel). It’s as though that particular book was destined to come from him, as though it was his purpose to produce it. He was otherwise a reluctant success.

But that’s not to say he was a reluctant writer. Although writers becoming wildly famous such that they are constantly in the spotlight does excite me because it means that people are still reading, I also have a deep respect for those writers who write solely for their personal satisfaction.

In 1999, Salinger’s New Hampshire neighbour Jerry Burt said the author had told him years earlier that he had written at least 15 unpublished books kept locked in a safe at his home.

“I love to write, and I assure you, I write regularly,” Salinger said in a brief interview with the Baton Rouge Advocate in 1980.

“But, I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it.” (Associated Press)

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