Reading Salinger


The New Yorker has made the 13 stories they published by Salinger available to everyone. Here, to revisit, is Janet Malcolm’s 2001 defense of the post-Catcher Salinger. And here is that horrifying article from a few months ago about how the kids can’t even read him. Also, here are two more immediate reactions to his life and death.

The first is from Alex Balk:

I’ve spent the last twenty years or so being embarrassed about J. D. Salinger. His thoughts are so clichéd! The language is so dated! There is nothing he has written that would seem insightful to anyone but a searching, frustrated teenager! Thinking about that in light of his passing, it’s fairly obvious that those reactions are all part of having read and loved almost everything Salinger wrote when I was a searching, frustrated teacher. The embarrassment I feel when I think about J. D. Salinger is actually the embarrassment I feel when I think about that kid who loved those books and felt like they finally helped him to understand a world that seemed so unfair and incomprehensible. I don’t know whether or not that makes Salinger a Great Writer In The Canon, but if someone has so much of an impact on you at a tender age that you’ve essentially incorporated the reading of his work with that specific moment of your life I think it’s probably fair to say that he was at least a great writer. I wouldn’t go back and read those books any sooner than I’d go back to that point in my life, but, on reflection, yes, that writer was pretty great.

The second is much shorter, but equally profound.