Good-by J. D. Salinger, 1919-2010

"What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse."

~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 1

I remember reading The Catcher in the Rye when I was a teenager.  I was transfixed by the character of Holden Caulfield. The book is a transformative moment in young adult literature. It's also, other than one short story in the mid-60s, the last thing Salinger published.  It is rumored that he has writings that will be published posthumously.

Salinger became a recluse and intensely private.  In fact, one of my favorite books, Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella features the reclusive Salinger as a character. In the book, Salinger is "kidnapped" by Ray Kinsella in his quest to build a baseball field in an Iowa cornfield. Sound familiar?  Shoeless Joe was the basis for the movie Field of Dreams, where they changed the author character to Terence Mann. Like most books made into movies, the book is better (even though I also love the movie).

While best known for his novel of adolescent angst, Salinger did write other books:

Franny and Zooey

Nine Stories

Raise the Roof Beam Carpenters: and Seymour, an Introduction


For an in depth biography, see Paul Alexander's Salinger, a Biography.