Thursday, January 28, 2010

JD Salinger 1919 - 2010 RIP

Cranmer is very saddened indeed to learn of the death of JD Salinger, best known for his coming-of-age novel 'The Catcher in the Rye' about rebellious teenager Holden Caulfield, which was published in 1951. The work has been termed 'a bible of teenage dissent': it has been translated into 30 languages, and sold more than 65m copies worldwide. Salinger had an undoubted gift for the teenage vernacular and was able to enter the adolescent interior monologue in quite a remarkable way.

In tribute, with happy memories, fond affection, and very great respect:

If you really want to hear about it, you'll probably want to know about where I was born, but I can't really be bovvered with all that David Copperfield crap. So I'll just tell you about all this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean, that's all I told DB, and he's my brother an' all, so I sure as hell can't be arsed to tell you. He's in Hollywood and writes movies. I hate movies. They're so phony. But then I hate everything, cos everything's boring, right?

Whatevva. The day I want to start telling is the day I left Pencey Prep. Pencey Prep is this posh school out in Pennsylvania, which I guess makes me some kind of trustafarian, but I, like, like to think of myself as this deep working-class hero, rebel without a cause alienated gangsta. Anyway, that day I got back to school early after leaving all the gym gear on the New York subway an' all the fencing team were mad as hell but I wasn't that bovvered 'cos what did I care?

Did I tell you I had just been thrown out for flunking four subjects? Nah, thought not, 'cos I'm also a cool, unreliable narrator dude. Anyways, I wasn't that bovvered 'cos I'd been kicked out of all my previous schools. I mean, working is just so not hip when you've got all this other teenage shit going through your head, like sex an' girls an' sex an' how no one really, like, understands you.

Anyways, there I was kicking my heels till term ended on Wednesday, thinking I really wasn't that bovvered about how pissed my father was gonna be when he found out I'd been kicked out, when that sexy bastard Stradlater came in late after dating a girl that I fancied and I went mad an' got him in a head lock and then he called me "you crumby sonofabitch, Caulfield" an beat me up cos' he's, like, much bigger than me, so I thought, yeah, like, whatevva, sod this for a game of soldiers, and decided to leave school there and then.

So I picked up my last few hundred dollars and went to the station. I met the mother of a right bastard at Pencey on the train and told her I had a brain tumour, how funny was that? An' when I got to Penn station I thought about calling my mother, my 10-year-old sister, Phoebe, an' a couple of girls I vaguely knew who I imagined might want to have sex with me as I was feeling horny as hell, but then I thought, nah, can't be bovvered, I'll smoke 20 cigarettes an' try an' get drunk and check into a divey hotel full of perverts.

The bastards in the kind of phony bar that would have made you puke wouldn't serve me a drink - said I was too young - so I chatted up some 30-year-old women from Seattle. Two of them were right mingers, but the blonde was OK, but when they started laughing at me, I thought, I ain't bovvered, so I paid for their drinks 'an headed back to the hotel.

The elevator guy asked me if I wanted a prostitute an' I thought I ain't bovvered either way but I might as well as I was a bit lonesome, so I said yes an' then she came along an' she was cute an' all but I couldn't , y'know, do it, because it didn't feel right. Truth is, I'm a virgin, no kidding, an' I don't really get the sex thing, so I gave her $5 an' then she came back with the elevator guy an' demanded another $5 an' I said no way so he beat me up.

An' that's pretty much the story of the rest of the book. I thought about sex, I rang a few girls, went to the movies, visited some museums, thought about how crumby and phony everything was an', like, how no one really loves me. Occasionally, for a bit of pathos, I thought about my brother Allie who died of leukaemia a while back, 'an then I went home to see Phoebe 'cos I was running out of cash an' she's the only one who understands me.

"Dad will kill you when he finds out, Holden!" she yelled at me. "Why d'ya do it?" "Because school's shit and everyone's a phony," I replied. "But you hate everything, so what's the difference?" She was right, of course, but I weren't that bovvered, so I just said, "No one understands me", borrowed $8.65 an' left to wallow in more repetitive existential angst and have deep thoughts about saving children from adulthood in the long rye grass.

I went to see an old teacher, Mr Antolini, but he turned out to be a pervert, so I went back to Phoebe's school to tell her I was heading west to work in a gas station. "I'm coming with you," she said. "No ways," I replied, but she followed me to the funfair and we hung out together an' it wasn't too bad so I thought, whatevva. I wasn't that bovvered what I did, so I might as well go home.

An' that's it really. The psychoanalyst guy they've got here wonders if I'm going to apply myself when I start a new posh school in the fall, but in truth I doubt it. 'Cos at heart, I still ain't really bovvered.


Anonymous McKenzie said...


28 January 2010 at 20:34  
Anonymous McKenzie said...

When you first read Catcher in The Rye and you identify with Holden Caulfield and his phoney hypothesis you get all excited until you reach the end and realise that you are actually suffering from mental illness.

Another of my favourite author is Jack Kerouac who uses what is called spontaneous prose - I love On The Road, it is a scream.

I am deeply saddened by JdS's passing away, I am a huge fan.

RIP and God Bless You Sir

28 January 2010 at 21:13  
Anonymous oiznop said...

A huge loss.


28 January 2010 at 21:22  
Blogger English Viking said...

'Catcher' is one of the most over-rated pieces of clap-trap that I have ever read. I think the only reason for it's fame is the association with assassins and CIA, MK Ultra type nonsenses and the weirdos that are attracted by such conspiracy theories.

Having said that, may God have mercy on him, and on the loved ones he has left grieving.

28 January 2010 at 21:33  
Anonymous Jewish Bag Lady said...

" and the weirdos that are attracted by such conspiracy theories"

Yes English Viking, cue the Dutchlion "Hitler was right and Churchill was a war criminal" comment.

RIP JD Salinger

28 January 2010 at 21:36  
Anonymous judith said...

Salinger's 'Franny and Zooey' remains one of my all-time and regularly re-read favourites.

28 January 2010 at 21:54  
Anonymous Mel said...

As an occasional reader from across the pond, I'd like to say your appreciation of our culture is greatly appreciated! JD was one of the great subversives, up there with Updike and as great as Twain.


28 January 2010 at 22:15  
Anonymous English Aristocrat said...

Mel, where are you from? The south? I love southern women,true ladies. Almost english. And that is a compliment!

28 January 2010 at 22:31  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Whatevva? Surely, your Grace, you mean wo'evva, making use of the ubiquitous glottal stop?

As for Mr. Salinger, he shaped many a young attitude with his most notorious book and will no doubt be missed by his millions of fans. I was impervious to his ideas and dislikable protagonist. My attitude, you see, is congenital. I come from a long line of awkward buggers.

28 January 2010 at 22:50  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Your Grace, yes the women of the southern United States are real ladies. Oh, it brings me back to my old university days; charming and delightful and most beautiful and intelligent as well and I have to say I find the accent of Virginians so soothing.... how my hearts beat a flutter at the sound of their voice. Perhaps this explains my marriage ?

28 January 2010 at 22:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So lavetory is hitched to an american bitch? Typical of the so called aristocracy of this country to marry non english people! How can the purity of the british race be maintained, with this type of union?

28 January 2010 at 22:59  
Anonymous not a machine said...

havent read any of his books so cannot comment !

On the other hand prof Dawkins Times article is him at his ignorant forcefull best. I dont mind him setting up a bear trap , its a free society , I can see how events can be minor subsequent and random to fit his thinking .

towns and cities are built on known eathquake zones , so earthquakes are to be expected ! not really that hard a proposition . However how can he answer the signals that nature recieves , how is certain animal behaviours change before an earthquake , what is it that they can percieve and know what to do even ??

Must try harder prof C-

29 January 2010 at 02:03  
Anonymous Bruce said...

He's right. School is shit and everyone is a phoney.The young have the best bull shit detectors!

29 January 2010 at 02:27  
Anonymous no nonny said...

RIP JD Salinger!! You and Holden are so right about those Phoneys!!!!

Wasn't Catcher banned in England, at first? For some reason I couldn't get hold of it until I went to NYC. And then I was absolutely horrified; totally disgusted at this foul-mouthed boy -- and left the book in the wastebasket!!! One of the guys said to me: "But don't you know why that boy talks and behaves like that?" I didn't.

Then later I had to read the book a couple of times in Lit courses...

Oh my.

29 January 2010 at 05:20  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

I have not read a single novel by J.D. Salinger (1919 – 2010). On the limited evidence I have before me, it is clear that he expressed teenage angst remarkably well:

‘Take most people, they’re crazy about cars. They worry if they get a little scratch on them, and they’re always talking about how many miles they get to a gallon… I don’t even like old cars. I mean they don’t even interest me. I’d rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God’s sake.’

The Catcher in the Rye (1951) Ch. 17

But I can’t help wondering if his moral and spiritual development was arrested in his teenage years:

‘Sex is something I really don’t understand too hot. You never know where the hell you are. I keep making up these sex rules for myself, and then I break them right away.’

The Catcher in the Rye (1951) Ch. 9

And that in the end he became a recluse because he failed to discover the meaning of life (‘I keep making up these… rules for myself, and then I break them right away’).
For if there are ‘no eternal rules’ then love and eroticism become meaningless and life itself becomes a dull grey and all you have left is a memory that you endlessly replay in the hope of recovering some lost pleasure:

‘I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all… I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye.’

The Catcher in the Rye (1951) Ch. 22

If I have offended any of his admirers: I sincerely and unreservedly apologise.

29 January 2010 at 09:29  
Blogger John said...


English Viking is actually ranting Like Holden - What a star!

29 January 2010 at 09:33  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Steady on, i'm also married to an American.

This ensures that I do not marry some teen mother with 5 kids from 6 different fathers type chav from this great nation.

29 January 2010 at 09:35  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

9 Stories was as good as a short story compilation gets. Hell'uva writer.

29 January 2010 at 11:17  
Blogger English Viking said...

@ John

J D was so... well, you know... phoney.

29 January 2010 at 11:32  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Anon at 22.59, it is Lavendon, not lavetory. Also, you point is so obtuse it is not worth replying to you with an answer to it.

29 January 2010 at 16:52  
Anonymous John Malcolmson said...

Gnostic you're lucky. I had to work at awkward buggery. And it shows. I mean, I'll never be as awkward a bugger as you (well at least your online persona).

29 January 2010 at 20:42  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Mr. Singh - 'Catcher' is well worth the read, it's not about just teenage confusion!!

Judging from your post [esp. "I can’t help wondering if his moral and spiritual development was arrested in his teenage years"], you'd probably 'get it' quicker than I did. I had read the novel closely several times and was quite old before I began to understand: though the question I mentioned above had stayed with me.

Being as chary of 'Pleasure' theory as of any other psycho-babble, I might contend about the universal applicability of your comment: "all you have left is a memory that you endlessly replay in the hope of recovering some lost pleasure." I see avoidance of humanity as resulting from complete lack of faith in humanity - because, as the 'kid' saw, large numbers of people are thoroughly "phoney." By that measure, reclusiveness would work best if supported by faith in God, and only God; certainly not by memories of so-called humanity! While such a response could tie into Platonic theory of pre-lapsarian memory, I don't think that's what the franco-german gubbins is about!

But I certainly couldn't know about JD ---

30 January 2010 at 10:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@lord lavendon, so what is it like putting your rod up a foreinger's private? I would like to know, you left wing socialist.

30 January 2010 at 22:28  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Anon at 22.28, please do not be so crude. This blog is for the intelligent reader, not for someone who simply wants to be vulgar and personal. You are a disgrace.

30 January 2010 at 22:39  
Blogger D. Singh said...


It is not the products of the sewer that has entered youthat defiles you. It is that, paradoxically, which exits that defiles you.

30 January 2010 at 22:40  
Blogger D. Singh said...

no nonny

I don't think I'll be able to get hold of a copy. It is politically incorrect to read it.

3 February 2010 at 14:12  
Blogger Oswin said...

''Catcher in the Rye'' It did nothing for me as a youth in the early sixties....I thought it was over-blown and over-praised. I still do.....I'm just amazed that so many were conned by this piece of drivel!

5 February 2010 at 19:14  
Blogger D. Singh said...

You lucky Joe.

It's about to be banned by the politically correct.

5 February 2010 at 20:01  

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