Monday, February 1, 2010

Salinger redux

There are some great tributes rolling in after Salinger's death late last week, and not just obits. Here's a fantastic interactive map of Holden Caulfield's New York haunts.

Dave Eggers weighs in for the New Yorker. The New Yorker also has other rememberances of Salinger, and every story of his the magazine ever published.

One of the best pieces I've read was by Sadie on Jezebel. She touches well on the idea that by disappearing from public life, Salinger allowed his readers full freedom to interpret and inhabit his characters and stories.

While his reclusiveness has been regarded by some as an act of selfishness, when you think about it, it's the most generous thing he could have done. What we knew about the man, after all, we wished we didn't - the weirdness and creepiness and peculiar diet. In this sense, he did us all a favor. He let us form the books and characters in our own image, let them stand alone, and I think this is not incidental to our sense of identification. That every idiot and your worst enemy should feel exactly the same proprietary kinship with his characters that you do is as it should be, and that's no mean achievement.

This 1957 letter from Salinger to one of the many producers who tried to buy film rights to Catcher In The Rye is quite awesome, describing Holden as "unactable". "Not to mention, God help us all, the immeasurably risky business of using actors. Have you ever seen a child actress sitting crosslegged on a bed and looking right? I'm sure not."

Here's another letter from Salinger, at 26, to Esquire. Ever since Gay Talese's "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" Esquire has seemed to specialise in these features where the writer never quite gets close enough to the subject; here Ron Rosenbaum skulks around Salinger's mailbox.

And of course The Onion nails it all with "Bunch of Phonies Mourn JD Salinger". If JD doesn't pop up in a post on Stuff White People Like in the next couple of weeks I'll be very suprised!

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