February 2, 2010
Talk to us, you old grouch!
We who loved J. D. Salinger’s books passionately are sad, of course, that the old man’s finally died, but we’ve carried around for decades a sort of ambivalent admiration for his reclusive resistance, a model non-conformism with ourselves as victims, mixed with a longing for his voluntary muteness to end so that we might once again hear our favorite songster hit the high notes.
In the late sixties—that era of youth being youth (living like there was no tomorrow, against all parents and pigs), loud colors, assassinations, moonshot triumph and Vietnam debacle—I survived adolescence (without finding the sense in it, however) thanks to Salinger, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Brautigan, Tolkien, Conan Doyle, Herbert, Saroyan, Fleming and Thurber. There are others that don’t come back to mind after forty years, but these writers kept me going; I systematically read every book they wrote.
I’m sure high school would have been dreadful anyway, but it didn’t help that I was almost two years younger than my classmates. The girl sitting next to me in sophomore English dropped out of school because she got pregnant, while I asked myself what precisely that meant and how it was accomplished with no answer forthcoming.
I bought my copy of Catcher in the Rye at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop. It was covered in butcher paper and tape, still a banned and shameful book in many places. The thought of someone hiding forbidden-nastiness with fifty strips of scotch tape was hilarious and pathetic. I left the paper on and read Catcher again and again. Then I graduated to the Glass family books, which I liked even more. In 1997 my dear copy of Catcher fell off the trailer while I was moving and vanished. Wonder what the finder thought.
They say that Jerry has been writing all this time. When will we get more (“want it, need it, gimme gimme gimme")? Times have changed; I’ve changed, could be a colossal letdown I suppose, yet I believe I will enjoy the next Salinger book more than just about anything. After all, I liked Cat Stevens' new record (Yusuf Islam, An Other Cup).
Happy trials, Martin
Mutt: I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
Jeff: Let me tell you, if you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.
Mutt: Oh yeah, well if you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
Jeff: Okay, show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.
Mutt: Well, when you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.
Jeff: And not only that, you’re stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
Mutt: Y’know, we should be on TV.
Jeff: Hell, we should be on Mount Olympus looking down.
Mutt: Don’t forget: when two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
Jeff: That’s us.