Great author who wrote the way people spoke
Enigmatic writer of 'Catcher in the Rye' dies aged 91, writes John Walsh
Published 29/01/2010 | 05:00
J D Salinger was one of the great enigmas of literary history. For the last half-century, since he moved from his native Manhattan to Cornish, New Hampshire, he has lived in hermit-like reclusion, seldom seen by anyone from the outside world.
His relations with the publishing and literary-critical fraternity have been fraught and often bitter, as he has sought, time after time, to fend off biographers, film-makers, interviewers, journalists and those who wish simply to quote from his works.
And what extraordinary works they are. Salinger has published nothing since 1965, but his oeuvre is remarkable. His first novel, 'The Catcher in the Rye', published in 1951, has sold over 60 million copies and sells in umpteen thousands every year. His other works are novellas or collections of stories: 'For Esme -- With Love and Squalor', 'Franny and Zooey', 'Raise High the Roof Beam', 'Carpenters' and 'Seymour: An Introduction'. They offer a puzzling, but internally coherent, mosaic of narrative about the Glass family, whose individual stories turn up randomly and out of sequence. Seymour, for instance, the eldest child of the Glass siblings, kills himself in 'A Perfect Day For Bananafish' published in 1948, but readers learned about his life and influence on the family only 11 years later, in 'Seymour: An Introduction', published in 1959.