This truly is an amazing world we live in. There have been people and events throughout history that have helped define the very way of life we live for better or worse. They have defined a nation, a generation, a people, a civilization. In the art world, this is such a Pandora’s Box to open. There are paintings, films, sculptures, or pieces of literature that are truly moving. These kinds of art stay with you. You somehow tell yourself in your mind that something completely obscure and unrelated can somehow remind you of that piece of work or art. They can also inspire you to help you accomplish something in your personal life for better or worse.
This is the story about J.D. Salinger; the writer who had exactly that effect on everyone, but wanted nothing to do with it. J.D. Salinger was an American author born January 1, 1919. He was the son of a Jewish father and an Irish-Catholic mother. Growing up, Salinger attended the most prestigious schools-and was soon after kicked out of them. He spent his young adult years with one solitary goal: to be published by “The New Yorker.” He got rejection after rejection from them. He was published in other magazines, but it didn’t matter to him. “The New Yorker” was his brass ring.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a counter-intelligence agent. He fought on D-Day. And to make all this even crazier, he had six chapters of “The Catcher In The Rye” with him that day.
“The Catcher In The Rye” was published in 1951. It’s the story of Holden Caulfield; a young kid who runs away from home to go to New York City. Holden approaches life and everyone and everything he encounters with discontent, annoyance, and frustration. Everyone is a “phony” in his eyes.
I can’t even begin to describe the book in any way to give it justice, and this post isn’t a review for the book. (Although one should come sooner or later.) All I can say is that it’s probably a reading requirement for every high school student in America and has been published in dozens of languages worldwide. It was certainly Salinger’s most successful story. In the 1960’s the book inspired the hippy generation to an entirely new ideal.
The character of Holden Caulfield was said to be the inspiration for some of the most tragic losses in American and pop-culture history. When Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, he referenced the character and the book declaring that Lennon was a “phony” exactly how Caulfield referred to the adults in the story.
In 1965, J.D. Salinger published his last piece of work ever. Over the course of his career and his very reclusive life, Salinger inherited a cult following. He lived in Northern New Hampshire away from the public eye. He hated being photographed and if he was, it was usually without his knowledge. He suffered from PTSD from his time as a counter-intelligence agent during World War II. It is said (and universally understood) that Salinger continued to write essentially every day in his life over the next 45 years. J.D. Salinger passed away in 2010.
Now here’s the kicker: according to Salinger’s estate, (his family and publishers) the volume of stories he wrote over the last four and a half decades will be released to the public between 2015-2020. Among them is a presumed sequel to “The Cather In The Rye” and more stories involving the characters from “The Glass Family.”
“Salinger” was directed by Shane Salerno. Don’t recognize his name? He’s the co-writer of “Armageddon.” Take a minute to let that sink in… Nevertheless “Salinger” is a very entertaining and informative documentary that included wonderful contributions from the likes of John Cusack, Martin Sheen, Edward Norton, Tom Wolfe, and more. It’s worth searching the independent movie theaters in your area or anticipate the digital download because it’s really good.
And FYI: You have to read “The Catcher In The Rye.” If you read it in high school and you’re over the age of 25, then sit your ass down and read it again.