Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger, You Arrogant Jerk, R.I.P.

J.D. Salinger liked his women young and dumb; that’s the rumor anyway. I buy in to this; I think he liked to be in control, and it’s no surprise that they left him once they matured and wised up. And if you buy into the rumors, he also drank his own urine for a period of time.

That’s what I’ll remember most about him.

While most people fell head over heels for Holden or the Glass family, I was fascinated by his life, and the mystery that surrounded it.

That’s usually the case with fiction authors for me. I’d much prefer to read a biography on Shakespeare then any of his works—the same is true for just about anyone who writes fiction past or new. I’m always intrigued by how they write, why they write, and their own personal beliefs. Their plots mean little to me—it’s the near mathematical equations that went into each sentence—the gentle or harsh construction of words.

Salinger was among the last living writers of the Modernist period (actually, I wouldn't really group him here...his works sort of went beyond any literary group; he was just a group in himself). It’s no wonder really that he choose to live the way he did; his every struggle to find identity and make sense of it all was analyzed and scrutinized by every contemporary literature professor in the country; everyone wanted to know what went through that mind of his, and in the end he just couldn’t take it—not in life anyway.

I always sort of assumed he would burn himself alive with all of his unpublished works—this being the only way to be able to remain in control of his own death and what happened to his literary estate. It was kind of him to let life take it’s natural course.

In coming months and years a string of bitter trials is surely going to take place; trials between his relatives over who truly controls his literary estate and who can best handle his wishes (whatever his wishes are). Once he’s laid to rest, I’m sure each of his children will have their news exclusive telling their side of the story, and I bet his secret lovers have already scheduled their interviews as well. And now, as morbid as it is, I sit back eagerly to await the gossip that they reveal.

As of 1999, he was also rumored to have completed 15 books, which he kept locked in a safe somewhere; that was over 10 years ago, so there’s no telling how many more there could be. It’s going to be an interesting 20 years—the time it will take to get all his books finally published—assuming, of course, he didn’t burn them all before he died.

And Salinger, wherever you wound up, I hope at last you found whatever it was you were looking for.


Anonymous said...

Strangely enough, this is the most touching Salinger tribute I've seen all day.

Maggie May said...

i adore all his books, every one.

kaitlin said...

I feel the same way about Salinger, and other authors. The vast majority of fiction doesn't intrigue me half as much as the lives these authors lead/led.