Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Catcher in the Rye

Below is a response to my lifelong friend (from grade school days to our old age dotage now) Larry (aka "Nitewrite") blog posting on the effect that J. D. Salinger and his book "The Catcher in the Rye" had on his love for writing:

My thoughts after reading your blog posting on J. D. Salinger and how he handled the fame that came from his very successful first novel, "The Catcher in the Rye."

Like you I write because I enjoy writing. I make no claims to being a great or even good writer. I write purely for my own pleasure. However, unlike you I would like to gain fame from my writing. Is that fame likely to happen? No. I am a realist after all. But that isn't what drives me to write. I write because I feel a need to write. If I didn't write I would feel like I am suppressing a part of myself that needs to break free.

I am thankful that we live in a time that we can write freely through blog postings. We don't need permission from some anonymous self appointed know-it-all in New York City to make public our writings. It's all about freedom. And what greater treasure in life is there except loving and being loved?

Will I ever have a large audience? I doubt it. The reason is not because I have or don't have talent. It's not because I haven't been formally trained as a writer (which I don't believe in anyway.) It is because there are millions and millions of writers who post blogs on the Internet, some talented and some not. We are but a grain of sand on the beach, no matter how much our particular grain of sand sparkles.

Do I have regrets? No. I am very happy that finally, in my lifetime, I can express my thoughts freely and not have someone try to silence me. Perhaps that why I got so upset a few months ago when the husband of a Facebook friend of mine criticized me for a FB posting I placed. There are always those who see the world through their own narrow prism and are unwilling or incapable of anyone else having the freedom to do the same.

There are too many people in this world who try to silence others with whom they don't agree or who are not in the same tribe as they are.

I think why we all identified with "The Catcher in the Rye" was because Holden Caulfield represented the rebel in all of us who yearn for freedom and are willing to tell it like it is, consequences be damned. Holden Caulfield represents the spirit in all of us that yearn to be free to the imposed restraints that society places on us.  His novel dealt with the complex issues of identity, belonging, connection, and alienation.  I believe this is why we Lar, in our formative adolescent years identified so much with this novel.

If I couldn't write, I would feel as if part of me had died. Writing and taking pictures is how I express my individualism. It is me saying "I am, he said."

I have read many books since reading “The Catcher in the Rye.” But I have never read a book since then that I identified so completely. This book enriched my life and I will be forever grateful to J. D. Salinger. Salinger may have died but his book and his message will last forever.


nitewrit said...


I have compared writing to an incurable virus. I doubt I could stop writing anymore than I could stop breathing and live. There have been times I tried to stop, but it didn't last long.

I would say I don't write for myself per se, meaning as I stated, I never wrote anything I didn't want others to read. However, i decided a long time ago to write how and on what I wanted, not to meet the demands of some editor somewhere.

I'm not sure it is how I express my individualism as exorcising my demons.

I always found a way to write and I would put writing first over other endeavors even if it held me back in those. I also always found a way to write where some got read. I have been fortunate enough to have been published throughout the years I have lived, beginning even in grade school with that newspaper Stuart and I published.

At this age of life I am perfectly happy to spin my tales or opine in essays on the Internet. The whole business side of getting published is a pain in the neck and I gladly drop that effort.

I have over my life collected far more rejection slips than checks. If you can't deal with rejection or criticism, then writing is not where you want to be. I must say I have received many encouraging rejections and not many nasty ones. The worse rejection I ever got back on a story submission told me never to darken the editor's mailbox again with such trash and that I had insulted every person living in the Southern United States. I didn't think I had that kind of malevolence in me to insult a quarter of the nation.

Anyway, I think if you are cursed to be a writer and they walled you up in an empty room you would die scratching stories on the brick with your fingernails.


Ron said...


I never submitted any of my writing for publication. I doubt if any of it would seriously be considered anyway so I saved myself that rejection. I've had enough rejection in my life than to go looking for it. Besides, I think a lot of what gets accepted is who you know and not because of true talent. I don't know anyone so I would just be wasting my time.

I am glad you tested the waters and were published. However, I will go to my grave unpublished with no regrets.