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J.D. Salinger & Catcher in the Rye

January 29, 2010

A small ‘twitter’ message popped up in my browser window which read, BreakingNews: Son says J.D. Salinger, author of ‘Catcher in the Rye’, has died at age 91 – AP

That piece of news was neither shocking nor something I expected. It was sort of startling for a couple of reasons. First, it happened the second time in this month that I assumed an author to be dead but he was alive and I got to know only when I received the news of the death. Second, what’s with January 2010 and the deaths of prominent authors, a scholar and an artist? Miep Gies, Asim Butt, Eric Segal, Howard Zinn and J.D. Salinger! Although four of them were quite old and had lived their lives to the fullest yet it always hurts when the great mind and soul departs the earth. The positive thing however, is that they would always be remembered for the extraordinary work that they have left behind.

Talking of J.D. Salinger, I have read his novel, ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and it is sort of a book that can either be hated or loved but can’t be ignored. That book holds a unique position because it was banned for the portrayal of maniac depressive teenage boy who frequently utters profanity such as, ‘In my mind, I’m probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw.’ While on the other hand it was also part of syllabus in the U.S. schools. It is one of my most favorite books, so much so, that it stays by my pillow. Whenever I am suffering from a low phase, or don’t feel like reading any other book, or just that I miss the crisp sentences of Holden Caulfield, I pick up the book and read a random passage. Those lines spoken by Holden never fail to bring smile on my face.

J.D. Salinger was known to be a quite reclusive author who had not given any interview since 1980 for the sole reason that he fiercely protected his privacy and chose to shift from New York City to rural Cornish after the publication of ‘Catcher in the Rye.’ In 1986, he sued the biographer Ian Hamilton from reprinting his letters to his fans and friends. J.D. Salinger had written just one novel and 13 short stories and all of them were published before 1959.

There is no chance of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ movie because Salinger never gave the rights to any film-maker for he was unhappy about the adaptation of one of his short stories that was a critical and commercial disaster.

‘Catcher in the Rye’, published in 1951, is one of the bestselling books of the 20th century with more than 60 million copies sold worldwide since its publication. It continues to sell 200,000 copies annually. It achieved the status of a cult book for the disenchanted youth. This book did inspire the killing of John Lennon in 1980, when the killer, Mark David Chapman claimed he did so ‘to promote the reading’ of the Salinger’s book.

Following are a few quotes from the book:

‘People never believe you.’

‘Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a toilet seat.’

‘All morons hate it when you call them a moron.’

‘People always clap for the wrong things.’

‘Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.’

RIP J.D. Salinger  1919 – 2010

16 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2010 4:46 am

    Nice post Ayesha. Another person left this world. And I would really love to read his book…

    Oh between I love his quotes…:P

    • January 30, 2010 11:57 am

      Yep and the irony was that I had no idea he was alive 😐

      In my view, the book is great!

  2. Zainab Jeewanjee permalink
    January 30, 2010 11:17 pm

    >>‘Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a toilet seat.>>

    hehehe. Thanks for sharing your perspective….the quotes at the end was a nice touch

    • February 2, 2010 9:16 pm

      I find that quote intriguing! 🙂

  3. Namrata permalink
    February 2, 2010 11:27 am

    I read the book November last year and was blown away. I think its an extremely progressive novel and the fact that we can relate to it even today speaks volumes about the writer.
    May he RIP.

  4. February 10, 2010 6:23 am

    mein kaankur 2.

    I haven’t read many books from angraizi literature. so I was just lucky to come across this one. suddenly lubed it.

    It was sent along with 30/40 others by ; some 5/6 yrs ago. btw, the parcel contained Salman Rushdie’s satanic verses. the post afas valaz wudn’t deliver until we gave them a written confirmation that we hadn’t asked for the particular book. And the sender didn’t know that it’s banned or something here in PK.
    They perhaps also raised questions on ISLAM, AN ARAB MOVEMENT something book.

    • February 10, 2010 12:50 pm

      Who’s Razia? Did you get those books for free? 😛

      My teacher said there was nothing offending in Salman Rushdie’s book. He had brought it from America! (Indeed smuggled it) 😀

  5. February 11, 2010 8:13 am

    yes, the books were Free. ‘v met her a couple of times when she wud visit Lahore/PK. I don’t find an ABOUT section on her page to refer to. khair, she showed up on an online forum some Uetians wud interact; Library Chowk (late).

    She volunteered for 2 yrs. in tanzania & before moving there (from US), she offered to share the books with us. bmk was made the ‘Librarian’ & responsible to circulate the books among folks. gave ebrybun their choices… no one asked for Catcher in the Rye n few others so I checked it myself. no looking back after the first few pages. I wud feel if I have already visited all those places; the boarding school, his posti roomies & teachers etc …

    Let me leave a note for her to check this page & comment. introduce herself too. hope she won’t ask about the books, I didn’t bother to ask the postiz to return so that others cud benefit too. 🙂 but then no ‘others’ are around in PK now, except Azure.

    • February 11, 2010 12:35 pm

      That’s an interesting story! It would be nice if she drops a line in here! 🙂

      You postis muft ki kitabain are fun sometimes! 😛

  6. February 13, 2010 3:20 am

    hi bmk and the rest.

    in fact, bmk, i was going to ask you if you want donate any stray books to the library my family has started in lahore.

    we have a few good books there english and urdu. i had made a list of all the books, but my sister was having problems with the computer. i don’t know if the list survived. there may be a hard copy. if any one is interested i can find out.

    on my next trip i’ll bring some more books. any requests?

    • February 13, 2010 8:34 am

      Thats an impressive initiative; kudos ms Razia!

      Yes, I’ll need lots of em; am not in lahore but bmk would send em to me.
      I’d like a copy of any of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ works..

  7. February 14, 2010 11:02 pm

    i read only one of his books and loved it: one hundred years of solitude. it may have been in the first batch i sent. i’ll see what i can do.

    • February 15, 2010 6:59 am

      aoa Razia, lubly to hear from you … wonder what are you upto these days? You must have read on LCF that 4Lee & TB are visiting PK & we are planning a get together. It would have been cool to have you around too. khair, we can have a GTG of our own as well.

      good to know about the Library… Ayesha, Aadill & Co. are pretty much into reading. please do post the list, when convenient. You guys may want to exchange few. BMK would love to offer the postal etc services for FREE. : )
      Let me also write to folks, who were issued those books.

  8. February 21, 2010 2:53 am

    sorry abt the delay in responding to you, bmk.

    it seems, my list of books got deleted when they reformatted the drive to get rid of a virus. there may be a hard copy, my sister is looking for it. i am really happy to learn that you all are into reading.

    i hope you are not ingnoring great urdu literature, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. i have the fondest memories of early childhood immersed in books.

    i am so excited to find this link: – english translation of allama iqbal’s urdu and persian poetry.

    you can become a fan here:!/pages/Allama-Iqbal/106105346504?ref=nf.

    yes, i hjave been reading about tb and charlie’s visits to pakistan. i am v tempted to come too.

  9. September 29, 2012 7:52 am

    That’s amazing…For some reason I too thought he was long dead. Two thumbs up on the blog btw, …came here researching for Jinnah and read some other posts. Pakistan seems so different from India…anyways, hope all is well since I see no blogging activity for a whie.

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