J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger

An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.”

J.D. Salinger,
Franny and Zooey

After 45 years of hiding from the public and the press, J.D. Salinger has passed away at 91 years of age. His work still holds up. His work will hold up in 50 years. I don’t know how to explain the magic of his tone, but it is there and every time I’ve read his work, a new layer of understanding came about. Was it intentional? Did he really consider each and every word in what he wrote? It seems that way. There was an economy of words, but somehow he was able to create a feeling and a mood. He was able to tell us about people and about ourselves.

He was, by the way, half Jewish. His father was Jewish (a kosher cheese salesman), his mother was Irish Catholic. I read somewhere that only later in life did Salinger discover that his mother wasn’t Jewish by birth because she had changed her name to Miriam. I’m not sure whether he also discovered that she hadn’t converted. Either way, he identified as a Jew in his younger life…and nobody has a clue with what he identified later in life since he kept to himself in the most severe way.

The LA Times had a reasonable obituary.

Ah, the NY Times has a better obit.

Virginia Heffernan has an interesting take on Salinger at Tablet.

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