Friday, January 29, 2010

Rant #183: Be-Holden

J.D. Salinger passed away yesterday.

If I tell that to my 14-year old or 21-year old kids, I doubt they would know a thing about who I was talking about.

But to at least a few generations of kids who are now in the their 50s and 60s, his passing struck a chord with us.

He was a writer by trade, but his book "The Catcher in the Rye" was such a definitive work that he really didn't have to do anything for the rest of his life after it was published.

And he didn't do much. He certainly didn't try to add onto his celebrity, as he was pretty much a recluse for the past 40 years or so.

But to the youth of the 1960s and 1970s, Salinger was something of a god. Although published in 1951, "Catcher in the Rye" was a book that hit a nerve with the generations that stood up and let it be known that we wouldn't conform to anything.

His character, Holden Caulfield, certainly led that charge. Caulfield wasn't your standard white-bread character. He thought dirty, dastardly thoughts, and he didn't walk a straight line. He questioned authority, and did what he wanted to do.

Wasn't this much like youth in the 1960s and 1970s? He was almost a "James Dean" type in the annals of fiction.

I remember reading this book in high school. I hated my high school years, and Caulfield was my hero. Everything that he thought and did pretty much mirrored my own thoughts.

I thought the book fell out of favor in the late 1970s, especially when that idiot who murdered John Lennon used it as a prop for his heinous actions.

Do kids still read this book? I don't know. But for my generation, Holden Caulfield was the man, and J.D. Salinger, his creator, was also the man.

It just shows that one book can have an incredible impact. And this one certainly did.


  1. Salinger's legacy will live on. I know many young people to whom Salinger is a cultural hero.

  2. Yes, my daughter really gave it to me for this one. She read the book in high school and became a big fan of it, and of Salinger. Well, you live and learn, what can I say?



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