Tuesday, September 24, 2013
I have found myself reading the reviews and the columns and the articles about the J.D. Salinger bio and the companion documentary, and I have to admit that I'm somewhat ashamed of myself. Caring about it seems voyeuristic, and the poor son of a bitch spent most of his life ducking from the voyeurs. Apart from that, I wonder why I should care. My Catcher in the Rye phase ended long, long ago, and although I like Franny and Zooey I can't say that I think it is all that amazing. What does that leave? Well, Nine Stories, which is fine in its way, but no better than a dozen other collections by New Yorker writers from the same period; and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. Also a handful of uncollected stories. When I was an undergraduate a spent a couple of weekends in the bound periodicals section of the Milne Library hunting those down. The trick was that the ones that appeared in Cosmopolitan weren't indexed in the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, but the time span in which they appeared was pretty limited. At the time my impression was that the un-anthologized Salinger was pretty much the same sort of thing as, say "Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut". Which, again, is fine, but not world changing. Except, I guess, it is. At the time I was holed up in the stacks the question of whether J.D. Salinger was scribing away was as regularly brunted about as the possibility of a Beatles reunion. We ached for it. And now we know. He really was writing, the stuff he was writing will be published, and.... I just don't care. I seriously doubt that he has anything to say to me. What could he say, this guy who wanted to hang out with Joyce Maynard when she was 18 and he was 53? What could the man Norman Mailer called, "the greatest mind to ever stay in prep school" have to say after 50 years of disengagement?