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Sunday, January 31, 2010

People always clap for the wrong things

Of all the obits for J.D. Salinger, this one said it best.

Comments (21)

You know, I read a LOT, but realized upon the Salinger's death that I have never read "Catcher in the Rye". Have I missed something extraordinary?



It was pretty damn extraordinary when I read it at 15. Now, less so, although the kids I teach it to still mostly love it...

The near-simultaneous loss of Howard Zinn, which brought far less attention from main stream media, is much greater for this society than the passing of Salinger. nancy, the short stories are well worth reading.

Those of us who knew Howard Zinn back in the late 60s when he thought it was fun to bring AK-47s to classes full of returning 'Nam veterans and point weapons and pay "hostage" games in class wonder how Howard lived so long.

While I am sympathetic to some of his political arguments, the man was a flaming human waste pipe in terms of his personality.

Speaking of personality disorders, cowering behind a pseudonym while trashing a recently deceased person smacks of some serious ... ...

Nice job by the Onion although I prefer those contests where they write in the style of Hemingway.

I don't want to sound like a phony here, but I felt something when J.D. signed off.
Yes, it's true. I am a recovering preppie.

Everybody in prep school feels a kinship with Holden, the kid in "The Catcher in the Rye" but I can go further.

First, in my defense, I was only there because the school in Arabia stopped after 9th grade so I never considered myself a true preppie.

But I did have a violent encounter with a varsity wrestler who was hazing me, and that led to him having his front teeth wired back in his head, causing him to miss the season. This meant every time I went to the gym, the entire athletic department just poured the hatred down on me.

It's like Holden leaving the sticks on the subway.

Although the other guy started it, I didn't want to hurt him that badly and I was suicidal for a few days there. Plenty of real teen angst and alienation, believe me, especially visiting him in the school infirmary. Boarding school was grim.

Wow, I just had another flashback to being in the packed infirmary sick as hell with the flu when some wise-ass ordered pizza. I can still hear the deep snow crunch as I dragged my sorry self to the doctor, sick as a dog, and no Mom to care for me.

I look at 15-year-old kids today and I can't imagine them being on their own, flying around the world, and rarely seeing their parents. I think it's too soon, but that was me. It was a feeling that everybody you loved and wanted to impress in your life was somewhere else, so I went from really trying, to caring very little about anything but getting through. If we were there to learn to be cynical, I was one of their best students.

Then there was the big school trial my senior year where my roommates and I faced expulsion - sort of like the Holden experience.

Fortunately, I got probation, graduated early, and hitchhiked around America having adventures Holden never dreamed about.

The book is brilliantly original, and it did move the literature of being a teenager ahead, as did "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles.

Yes, "The Catcher in the Rye" is always going to be associated with the death of John Lennon, but what can you do? I really appreciated a book that talked openly from a kid's point of view. I read it before going to prep school and I thought it was funny as hell. Then later, I lived it, and it wasn't funny at all.

I've heard a ton of criticism of J.D. Salinger since his death, but as authors go, he really made a lasting name for himself.
I also appreciated how J.D. Salinger made his point, then got off the stage.

Leno had a good joke about it, "J.D. Salinger died at the age of 91 after a long battle with teenage angst."
I'm sure Holden would have laughed.

Aw c'mon Nonny Mouse. I was in grad school at BU in the mid 70s. Zinn was a breath of fresh air especially when that piece of work John Silber was running the University.

This excerpt from Michiko Kakutani's appraisal of Salinger in the Book section of the NYT:

"Whether it’s Holden or the whiz-kid Glass children or the shell-shocked soldier in “For Esmé — with Love and Squalor,” Mr. Salinger’s people tend to be outsiders — spiritual voyagers shipwrecked in a vulgar and materialistic world, misfits who never really outgrew adolescent feelings of estrangement".

Feelings of estrangement/alienation from the host society are inherently adolescent; something to grow out of??

If this is what "growing up" means then make me a perpetual adolescent misfit.

Those of us who knew Howard Zinn back in the late 60s when he thought it was fun to bring AK-47s to classes full of returning 'Nam veterans and point weapons and pay "hostage" games in class

Funny, and also false.

About Salinger: the book got popular in the late 60s, 70s and 80s mainly because there weren't many books like it--"real" language about teen angst. It's not a great book. Even Salinger didn't think so. But teachers who spent their formative years in that time--voila--they taught it to teens after ward. It's not that popular in high school classes now, and hasn't been in almost 20 years.

Salinger wrote decent short stories, but overall, he wasn't a great writer, despite the hype and nostalgia. Mainly, he was just a guy who wrote a few things then quit the world. There's no wizard behind the curtain.

There goes my feelings that the world doesn't get it again.

"You know, I read a LOT, but realized upon the Salinger's death that I have never read "Catcher in the Rye". Have I missed something extraordinary?"


"Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody."

"Salinger wrote decent short stories, but overall, he wasn't a great writer, despite the hype and nostalgia. Mainly, he was just a guy who wrote a few things then quit the world. There's no wizard behind the curtain."

The role of the critic has always been the lesser trying to explain the greater.

[Catcher in the Rye] is not that popular in high school classes now, and hasn't been in almost 20 years.

Twenty years back or so, there were a a few well-publicized attempts - some successful - to force school boards to pull it off the high school library shelves.

I can think of nothing better to increase the popularity of a title among teenagers.

The role of the critic has always been the lesser trying to explain the greater.

That would make you the lesser, then.

Twenty years back or so, there were a a few well-publicized attempts - some successful - to force school boards to pull it off the high school library shelves.

More like 40+ years ago, in the 50s and early 60s. By the early 70s, it was standard fare in all but maybe some small towns. Like you said, that's actually one of the chief reasons for its popularity.

As Stephen Colbert reminded us recently: everything is a crisis for a 15-year-old. But I would never dismiss a very successful novel by someone who had engaged in mortal combat both on a D-Day beach and during the Battle of the Bulge, and then survived Joyce Maynard. Cornish NH is very pleasant most of the year, although there is mud season, followed by black fly. (Despite the absence of a sales tax, NH manages both to plow and to repair its roads.)

NPR offered this obit for Howard Zinn:
The inclusion of David Horowitz earned the opprobrium of many, many articulate listeners of this branch of MSM.

Whoa ecce-homo a variation on the "I know you are but what am I" conundrum! Ouch.

Ecohuman -

Not funny re Zinn. And not fase.

I was there. In one of the little hole in the wall smal lecture halls off behibd where BU eventually built the 700 Commonwealth dorms, in what was then the old College of Communications buildings.

I broke the arm of one wanna be revolutionary who did make believe violence like a stage play. It was really stoooopid for Howie to fuc* with people who had bee shot at for a year or more and who weren't into his make beieve political theater.

My daughter had to read Catcher in English class a couple of years ago, so I read it at the same time. Neither of us thought it was that great.


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Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
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William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
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