Sunday, September 22, 2013

J. D. Salinger

Because there is someone who wants to make money off the dead J. D. Salinger, I finally got
around to reading The Catcher in the Rye.
This simple story covering but a couple of days in the life of a young man who has just been
kicked out of a private high school is one of those books you are supposed to genuflect in front
of. It is and it isn't.
Primarily, it is a great example of characterization. It goes deep into the mind of the young man
who is angry with himself but express that anger against just about everyone and anyone but
himself. Mostly he does this with dialog in his head, not in any action. The depth of style and the
focus on characterization reminds me of Death in Venice by Thomas Mann and Ulysses by James
What this book is not is a page turner.
How you view this book depends on what you expect from it and how you view yourself.
And here is the odd thing.
I've read a few of the reviews praising this book on Amazon as a great work of literature and I
have the strong feeling the author, J. D. Salinger, would not be overly impressed or even grateful
for those reviews of praise.
If you have a current copy, go to page 84 and I think you will see what I mean. I believe the star
of the book, Holden Caufield, is pretty much speaking for Salinger when he says, "If I were a
piano player or actor or something and all those dopes thought I was terrific, I would hate it."
Maybe it was this sentiment that caused Salinger to become somewhat of a recluse in the face of
Not everyone wants fame and/or fortune. Sometimes they come with the territory but not
everyone wants either of them.
The man was a great writer, a writer of great character detail who obviously loved to write. That
may have been all that he ever wanted that and a living wage.
Should you read it? That's up to you. But I would suggest you not genuflect before it. Approach it
like you might approach it if it were a comic book or something. That approach allowed me to
read and enjoy Ulysses by James Joyce after first trying to read it as a great work of art.
It is but just put those thoughts aside and have some fun reading about one screwed up kid, one
like many of us were.
You might even find yourself laughing instead of being so all serious about it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quit Smoking

After smoking about two packs a day for almost 55 years, I have finally decided to make a serious effort to quit.
I ordered those nicotine patches from NY State Smoker's quitline and I received them last Friday.
After smoking a couple of cigarettes early Saturday morning, Sept. 14, I started using the  patch and haven't smoke since.
Four smoke free days isn't much but things are going well and I am determined to stay smoke free.
Wish me luck.