Thursday, January 28, 2010

On J.D. Salinger's Passing

Can a person be "in the world but not of it"?

Well, a writer must spend some time in the world to write about it, obviously. And I guess a writer such as J.D. Salinger, didn't have to spend too much time with people to write honestly and perfectly about the loneliness of being a fragile soul in a world full of loudmouths, blowhards, dullards and cretins. Seymour the damaged soul, traumatized in WWII, no longer able or interested in communicating with regular people, even his nail-lacquering wife. His characters all cry out for understanding in a loud, busy, cruel world that keeps on going on despite the fact that there are adults out there who never learned to be adults. They hurt like children hurt, that's why a lot of them like or deeply resent children. Jews can live like WASPs but they're still Jews and it makes life harder for complicated reasons.

I suppose a life of travel, luxe living in New York City, then getting hurled onto Utah Beach in 1944, he met a lot of different kinds of people. I guess he felt like he'd met enough.

Thanks to the The New Yorker for linking to 12 stories today. "Teddy" and "Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut" are two his most devastating and two of my very favorites.

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