Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger, 1919-2010

J.D. Salinger died Wednesday at his home in Cornish, N.H., of natural causes. He was 91 years old.

Sadly, it's an occurrence I've been passively anticipating since I first read "The Catcher in the Rye" in high school (on my own -- by the time I swung through high school it was no longer required reading). I've been half dreading the loss of such a literary icon and half excited at the prospect of a potential posthumous release of the cache of new material rumored to have been written by Salinger in the last however many decades since he went into seclusion.

It's hard to imagine a more influential contemporary author than Salinger, and I feel I owe a lot to him personally. His short stories -- particularly "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" -- helped germinate the seed planted by Ernest Hemingway's that would eventually grow into a dedicated love for the written word. Would I have kept reading -- or pursued writing at all -- had I not read Salinger's works when I did? I don't know. What I do know is that Salinger's words kept me company at a time in my life when I really needed company, and for that I am thankful.

Salinger's New York Times obituary can be found online here.

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