JD Salinger: A tribute roundupFrom favourite quotes to speculation over the secret stash of unpublished works, the blogosphere is awash with JD Salinger tributes and anecdotes
Outpourings of prose from what the New York Times is calling
Salingerologists greeted the death of the world’s most famous literary recluse, JD Salinger, yesterday.
Tributes are everywhere, from Stephen King (not “a huge Salinger fan, but I’m sorry to hear of his passing – the way you’d feel if you heard an eccentric, short-tempered, but often fascinating uncle had passed away”), to Neil Gaiman (“I loved the short stories, liked Catcher, admired his isolation and the way he stopped”) and my personal favourite, John Hodgman: “I prefer to think JD Salinger has just decided to become extra reclusive”. Not really sure what to make of Bret Easton Ellis though: “Yeah!! Thank God he’s finally dead. I’ve been waiting for this day for-fucking-ever. Party tonight!!!”
A fan remembers meeting Salinger in his 20s: “‘You’d better come inside,’ Salinger said. Krawczyk came in, and they went to the kitchen. As he remembers it, Krawczyk was not offered a seat or a cup of coffee … Then Krawczyk asked about The Catcher in the Rye. ‘Did you think it would be such a popular book?’ he asked. ‘It’s been a nightmare,’ Krawczyk recalls Salinger answering. The writer did not elaborate.”
Publisher Roger Lathbury, who corresponded with Salinger over the
possible publication of Hapworth 16, 1924 in 1988 – it went sour after
the press got wind of the plans – reveals, for the first time, details of his meeting with the author. “He was waiting patiently. I shook hands with him and apologized for being late and explained about the briefcase. He said, ‘I was afraid of that.’ He was trying to make me feel at ease but he was probably nervous, too.’ They ordered. Salinger ‘recommended the Parmesan soup, or a soup with Parmesan flavouring. I said, ‘I am a vegetarian’ and he said, ‘I am largely a vegetarian.’ I didn’t know what that meant – sort of like saying, ‘I am a little bit pregnant.'”
Collections of favourite Salinger quotes are springing up all over the place – “It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road”, someone suggests here – and here GalleyCat has collected some old Salinger reviews (including Updike on Franny and Zooey: “His fiction, in its rather grim bravado, its humor, its morbidity, its wry but persistent hopefulness, matches the shape and tint of present American life”).
The question everyone’s really asking, though, is what will happen to the writing. Salinger is said to have a “secret cache” of about 15 unpublished novels, but yesterday his literary agent declined to comment on whether they exist or are likely to be published, and his publisher said there were “no plans” for any new books.
My own favourite tribute comes from the always-excellent Onion. “Bunch of Phonies Mourn JD Salinger,” it reports. “In this big dramatic production that didn’t do anyone any good (and was pretty embarrassing, really, if you think about it), thousands upon thousands of phonies across the country mourned the death of author JD Salinger, who was 91 years old for crying out loud … ‘There will never be another voice like his.’ Which is exactly the lousy kind of goddamn thing that people say, because really it could mean lots of things, or nothing at all even, and it’s just a perfect example of why you should never tell anybody anything.”
Salinger himself, I think, might have approved of that one. It’s pretty certain he’d have been unimpressed by all the chatter, – Holden
Caulfield perhaps said it best: “Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.”