If you really want to know about it, the author of Catcher in the Rye has died, at 91, in recluse, of natural cause.
The last time I ‘encountered’ the American author was when I took home some of my books from the office and showed my 17-year old brother, Tommy, the Catcher in the Rye, telling him he’ll love it.
I was right. He had exactly the impression we all had after reading J.D. Salinger’s signature novel. He was smiling silly. He spoke like the lead character, Holden Caulfield. He had soft spot for anyone who acts like Phoebe. And, boy, he horses around helluvalot.
Tommy became Holden.
He asked if I have other books like that (because he finished reading quick). I said, if he means coming-of-age novels, I had another, House on Mango Street, but I gave it away right after I bought it because the expensive book disappointed me much, perhaps because that time, I just finished reading the book I borrowed from friend Thea, Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things, another coming-of-age, but a more serious and compelling one. (So I just promised him that I’ll buy other Salinger books).
The second to the last ‘encounter’ I had with Salinger, or his work, was when I was reading unpublished essays of a friend about his college life and post-revolutionary-life mumblings. I was sure he was writing with the hands of Salinger. The wit! The depression. The phony boldness! The silence of solitude. The sarcasm! The transcendence of social norms.
The third to the last encounter with Jerome David Salinger was when I taught Hum 1 five years ago. The novel was in their list. Almost all of them could not buy the/a book so it was a good thing that the novel is a relatively short one, as they photocopied it. They loved Holden too, with reservations though, because they don’t seem to understand much what’s going on with Holden. Why he wants to run away all the time, why he’s not interested in anything (except trivial things like where the ducks in Central Park go in wintertime), why he’s not interested in anyone (except that girl he keeps on wanting to phone, but never did), why he’s never good at anything (except English composition), why he’s so aloof and interesting.
But it’s the perplexing dimensions of the character, the fluidity of the narrative, the crisp commentaries, and the inviting vow to solitude that made Salinger’s novel an unforgettable read, even when the author is dead.