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.