J.D. Salinger dead at 91

January 28, 2010

In what seems to be a pernicious trend as of late, acclaimed author J.D. Salinger has joined the unfortunate ranks of recently deceased writers.  The recluse author died in his New Hampshire home of natural causes; he was 91 years old.  It seems to me that, at least in the last few decades, Salinger’s 1951 novel, The Catcher in the Rye, has been required reading for students around the world.  Oddly enough, it was never a mandatory read for me, though I would suspect that even the large percentage of folks in my situation are still familiar with Holden Caulfield wrestling with the troubles of teen angst.  I will take this opportunity to say that Catcher was never one of my favorite reads.  I am, however, thankful for the contribution to the literary world and for the effect that this novel has had on the works of so many other authors whom I very much enjoy reading.  Brett Easton Ellis (one of my favorites), for one,  attributes some influence for his novel Less Than Zero, to Salinger’s work.  Of course, on the flip side, how can we forget the various negative influences attributed to Catcher?  A number of assassinations (both attempted and successful – Lennon, Reagan, Schaeffer) were also influenced by this one-time controversial work.  However, in this time of mourning, let us remember the positive contributions to the world of literature made by this elusive man.  Let’s just hope that, wherever he is, the man who detested the spotlight in life won’t be too upset with the amount of attention he’s receiving in death.

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