Tuesday, February 2, 2010

J.D. Salinger is dead

I guess I missed the memo. David Warren discusses Salinger's seminal work Catcher in the Rye.  (I'm pretty sure I had to read it in high school too, but I don't remember a thing about it. That's how memorable it was.)
...a novel which exalts the worst kind of self-pitying adolescent narcissism, and holds it up as an ideal, through adulthood to a senile old age.
When I read those lines, I thought, 'Surely Mr. Warren will, at some point in this essay, mention the very person whom this description calls to mind.' I was not disappointed.
Indeed, one cannot look through the list of President Obama's strange and demented policy czars without spotting so many Holden Caulfields, nor escape their ever-presence among the talking heads of MSNBC. And in watching the president's State of the Union address this week, I had the distinct impression of a man whose big-government vision rests less in Marxism than in the faux-naïf of "a catcher in the rye."
for any who would like to brush up on Catcher, here is Larry Thornberry's take on the novel. (American Spectator)
While it's easy to see why adolescents, particularly of the indulged sort, would find this kind of thing attractive. It's more of a mystery why grownups, some disguised as teachers and lit professors, praise this nonsense and oblige high school and college students to read it. This is almost child abuse. [...]
No one over the weekend would come out and say it, so allow me to. This literary emperor is wearing no clothes. His only novel and its chief character are contemptible.

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