Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Don't ever tell anybody anything

First of all, I hope the irony of the famous last lines of Catcher in the Rye is not lost on the Internet generation. I really do. Since J.D. Salinger went toes up the other day, I've seen those lines Twittered, blogged, Facebooked, etc., and all I kept thinking was, "Never telling anybody anything is an idea foreign to those of us in the 21st Century. We tell simply anyone everything."

Really. We're a society of blabbermouths, and I don't say that as a criticism, because I do it too. We miss everyone when we don't tell them everything.

It's been ages since I last read Catcher in the Rye, though I have made a few valiant efforts over the years. The book is great, but it no longer connects with me because, frankly, I'm no longer an alienated teenager. Sometimes I skim through the book, with no intention of reading it, and thinking my adult thoughts about the use of language and the development of character, then I feel guilty because I know Holden would be annoyed--pissed--at my deconstruction of his narrative, and then I feel as if I'm intruding, and put the book away, giving it some privacy on a bookshelf somewhere.

In one of the Glass family stories--I forget which--Salinger (or Buddy!) writes about how he wishes to meet someone who has the courage to be a complete nobody. I suppose this is how Salinger tried to spend most of his life, but he failed miserably at it, since while he was a recluse, he was a terrible recluse. The man never met a man he didn't want to sue, for one thing. For another, he was obsessed with actresses, and often wrote them fan letters, and even practically stalked Catherine Oxenberg, paying her a visit on the set of "Dynasty" (he was escorted off the set, which to me seems absurd because any producer worth his or her salt would've offered Salinger 5 minutes alone with Ms. Oxenberg in exchange for a short cameo on an episode of the show--think of the ratings that would've gotten! Almost as big as a Krystal/Alexis cat-fight, surely). But, he tried to be a nobody, after already being a somebody, so it must've been difficult to maintain the desired level of anonymity. One can't start off as visible as Mark Twain, then expect to go all Emily Dickinson half-way through one's career.

Which is apparently what Salinger thought he was doing: he wrote the modern-day Huck Finn, then retired to his private home in New Hampshire, expecting us to let him go, and he continued writing, but not publishing.

Perhaps he felt the same way about his characters that I now feel about them: best leave them to their privacy. Why intrude?

Anyway, my favorite book by Salinger is Franny and Zooey, so it's kind of telling that it's the one Salinger book I left back home, in Florence, AL, when I moved here to NYC. I have my first edition copy of Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters.... and my imposter reprints (900th edition or something) of Nine Stories and Catcher. But Franny and Zooey has been in a box in my dad's office for 6-plus years now as if I'm leaving Franny to her constant prayer for as long as I can, hoping she finally gets the hang of it. And I can't bring myself to buy a new copy because the new copy will not be the same book--I bonded with the one I initially bought; all other copies are clones.

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