Despite trying to stop myself, I’ve just finished reading the Salinger stories for the second time. Glorious. I’m all choked up. ‘The Ocean Full Of Bowling Balls’ is especially moving, like finding a photograph you’ve never seen before of someone who died long ago.
I’ve always found Salinger to be a magical, masterful writer. He’s absolutely effortless. Nine Stories is the most perfect collection of short stories I’ve ever read. And of course Catcher In The Rye, which unfortunately has become so passé you can’t even mention it these days without being greeted by a collective groan. I’ve noticed that Catcher only sinks its teeth into certain types of young people – disillusioned loners, nostalgic innocents. People label Catcher as a rebel’s handbook, an emo bible – but it’s actually a novel of innocence, repressed grief and gentle, uncomplicated love. It owes more to Peter Pan than James Dean.
There’s no point trying to defend the novel though, Holden’s voice irritates a lot of readers, and I think that some people are too ‘well rounded’ to be affected by Catcher in a meaningful way. But looking at some of the comments today I realise there’s a lot of snobbery about Salinger, a lot of sneering. Why? Because he wrote a very popular book? Holden, Phoebe, Esme, The Glass Family – they’re old friends to me. I love them. And I’m not ashamed! 🙂
Ah, I’d kill for a big haul of unpublished Salinger stuff to surface. Just to see.