"...the main purpose of criticism...is not to make its readers agree, nice as that is, but to make them, by whatever orthodox or unorthodox method, think." - John Simon

"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity." - George Orwell

Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger (1919 - 2010)

It's with a heavy heart that I found out that J.D. Salinger died on Wednesday, January 27 at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire. His influence is widespread. He was also one of my favorite authors and like many of you I'm sure reading The Catcher in the Rye at an impressionable age had a profound effect.

There are already some excellent tributes to the man and his work. Check out the links:

Washington Post

The New York Times


The Dartmouth (actually written before his death)


The New Yorker: here and here

Secret Salinger documentary in the works

Esquire (also written before Salinger's death)

And if you want to check out some of Salinger's short stories that were originally published in now out of print magazines and never published since, check out the Dead Caulfields website. An amazing resource for all things Salinger.

"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."
- The Catcher in the Rye

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and memories of the man and his work in the comments section.


  1. Yes, I grew up reading Salinger. Next to Updike, he was one of my favorite New Yorker writers. I got to know my wife-to-be by discussing Salinger's works over lunch in grad school, and she actually managed to receive two brief typed letters from Salinger. He hasn't been in the public eye, of course, but he will still be missed in our household.

  2. Oddly enough, I just paid tribute to another New York author on my blog. Was unaware of Salinger's passing. RIP - and kudos for keeping the outside world at bay - certainly more artists could profit, both themselves and us, by following his example.

  3. J.D. Salinger was a great writer who's passing is really sad for me. I read Catcher In The Rye in college as a freshman and will always cherish the book. He will be missed.

  4. Wonderful tribute for a great and legendary writer, J.D. And thanks very much for linking the Salinger's short stories. That's a great site.

  5. FilmDr:

    Thanks for sharing that excellent story about your personal connection to Salinger. Very cool. To get any kind of correspondence from Salinger is quite a feat!


    Yeah, he did a pretty good job of keeping out of the public eye. He made Thomas Pynchon look like an attention whore in comparison. ; ) But in all seriousness, it allowed people to look at his work on its own merits as opposed to judging based on aspects of his life.

    Jenna Culbertson:

    Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. I didn't read CATCHER until high school. I had been initially turned off by all the hype about how great it was but when I finally read it I realized how great a book it really was.


    Thanks you, my friend! Yeah, I stumbled on that Dead Caulfields site and couldn't believe the wealth of material on there! Amazing stuff.

  6. J.D., I've read CATCHER several times in my life, and you can well understand that a man my age would have had Salinger forced on me, but this was the forerunner of the kind of frank, coming of age fiction that spurred on at the time a philosophical slant among teens that also included Hermann Hesse and Kurt Vonegut. I once tried using this with my eighth gradeEnglish students, but they weren't up for it. Along with A SEPARATE PEACE and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, this was perhaps the most widely read of Jr. High/High School novels, and it's reputation has gone on undiminished.

    It's remarkable how reclusive Salinger was, and how till the very end he fought anyone who attempted to compromise his position even slightly. I read some of those short stories, but CATCHER of course will be what he will always be emembered for.

  7. Sam Juliano:

    Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts/reflection. It is pretty amazing how reclusive Salinger was and in many respects I certainly don't blame him. I think he was tired of people trying to contact him about his book. I guess after awhile all the attention stops being flattering and gets annoying maybe even intrusive.