City Journal Autumn 2014

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Stefan Kanfer
Jerry’s Fate « Back to Story

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Salinger's withdrawal from society parallels the experiences of roughly 99% of PTSD sufferers -

I think you mean 99% of those awarded disability benefits over a certain threshhold and 99% of those who can afford to clip coupons from the age of 46 to the age of 91.
Violated? No, unless you would like to dispose of literary biography as a genre (Why not, bar that English professors would have to publish criticism to get tenure and Leon Wieseltier would be out of work?). The people who violated this man are

1. His daughter, who trashed him in print.

2. Paramours who made public intimacies.

3. (In a minor way) pests who showed up at his door unbidden, &c.
OLIVIA Trager Al,tschuler September 14, 2013 at 5:28 PM
Stefan -I agree with Mary McCarthy. I would add that, although a fan of Holden and the Glass clan in my youth, I now find them a pack of adolescent phonies. Exception: "Banana Fish" which I think is right up there with Joyce's "The Dead" and Mann's Death in Venice.
Teachers of literature aside, does anyone over 30 read "Catcher"? I'd be interested in seeing the age distribution of the purchasers of those 250,000 copies that will be bought this year. I was quite taken with it when I read it as a teenager (along with Caulfield's cinematic counterpart in "The Graduate"), less sympathetic when I reread it at about age 30, and by age 40 came to see Holden as a "whiner". Contrast this progression with authors whose works only get better, and more insight-laden, with age. Are there any insights in "Catcher" for someone over 30?
For anyone interested, Charlie Rose did a one-hour interview with Salerno, broadcast last Wednesday. It's available for streaming on the Charlie Rose website. Personally, I found it a lot more interesting than this review would lead one to suspect.
"Now, in death, he has been violated again," Mr. Kanfer writes in sorrow, as if he had been forced to witness a tomb being opened and desecrated without permission. When Scott Fitzgerald said that are no second acts in American lives could he have ever imagined the ghoulish acts of publishing necrophilia that are now being performed on the souls and bodies of men and artists whose lives and works were left unfinished? Some writers of JD's generation chose to follow Mailer's self-serving advice that the secret of American literary success was to advertise oneself as a public celebrity--Vidal did so with great success, Capote with disaster. Salinger, on the other hand, believed that the writer's sole obligation was to write well. Can we not respect his wishes and leave his memory alone? R.I.P. Jerome David.
LW-- the fact that you would use OMG speaks volumes.
Very engaging and thoughtful. Salinger would approve.
I love the Glass family and reread all the stories every 4 or 5 years, always hopeful that Seymour will change his mind.
Style?

-- "tumbles into the category"
-- "a vanished celebrity"
-- "Franny, Zoey, Seymour, Buddy, and the other lodestars"
-- "a wretched time overseas"
-- "Now, in death, he has been violated again"

And the OMG winner: "Holden Caulfield became the voice of a generation." Really? While Ike was president?

The latter half of this piece is more accurate, somewhat verbally restrained, less sophomoric. But still, "psychobabble and pseudo-scholarship" is unsuitable for a book that presents a series of personal reactions to Mr. Salinger, whose objections to public coverage focused on dishonest uses of his fiction. And why no mention of PTSD? Or does Mr. Kanfer think that "wretched time overseas" does the job for that illness? Salinger's withdrawal from society parallels the experiences of roughly 99% of PTSD sufferers -- the other 1% suicide to escape their suffering.

Salinger valued the human soul. Where that went in his life, despite PTSD, is reflected in this book.
I believe myself to be the only person (that I'm aware of anyway) to have read The Catcher in the Rye and understood it. This is probably a conceit, but it's my opinion and I cling to it stubbornly. In my opinion, the whole book was more or less a sendup of what snotty, self-absorbed and self-obsessed whiny little jerks teenaged boys can be. We've all met the teenager who ostentatiously tells you how mature they are (my wife's observation is that if the teenager has to tell you he's mature, he isn't) and to my mind Holden Caulfield is the paradigm of that whole personality type. He's very wealthy and privileged, and whines the whole way through the book that no one understands him and that everyone is a phony.

It's not a coming of age novel, it's more or less a parody, a sort of how-not-to of growing up. It's appalling that it's taught to teenagers as the opposite; it's no wonder we've turned into a nation of self-important whiners. Holden showed us the way.
Enjoyed the review, but I note that Joyce Maynard was 34 years Salingerís junior not only when they met but 34 years his junior when they split up and 34 years his junior every year in between.