Today we lost a literary giant. A recluse, misanthropic, literary giant.
J.D. Salinger is one of my favorite writers and has been ever since I first read Franny and Zooey. Somehow I managed to get through high school (and college) lit classes without having to read Catcher in the Rye. That’s what being in honor and advanced classes gets you, I guess. It would be years after college that I would finally get to Holden Caulfield’s story, but by then I had read everything else published in book form by Mr. Salinger.
Today, while surfing the internet, reading articles and flipping through Wikipedia I discovered there are numerous titles, a number of short stories, that were only published in things like the Saturday Evening Post and other magazines. I’d love to read them….and apparently I can. Thanks to the Dead Caulfields I was able to discover another story and new characters, not relatives of Franny, Zooey, Seymour or Holden. “The Varioni Brothers”—the tale of two brothers, one a musician and the other his lyricist and a writer, and the loves and disappointment in their lives. It’s a short story that supposedly Salinger hoped would be made in to a movie, and the fact that it wasn’t became a big disappointment for him. Ironically, its plot is rather reminiscent of that very element in Salinger’s own life. Not unlike many other of his stories, there’s an element of sadness, of missed opportunity.
Reading his stuff always feels to me like watching the brutality of real life through a protective filter of some kind.
I’ve always wished he was more prolific. I still do. I’ll take solace in tracking down and enjoying those other half-dozen or so short stories out there.