posted and written by caroline picard

And this is just peculiar. On p. 91 of my o-so-familiar all white w/ green spine copy, Salinger makes this curious reference to the frame of the text. In other words, the scene depicts Zooey shaving after having had a bath.

Not five minutes later, Zooey, with his hair combed wet, stood barefoot at the washbowl, wearing a pair of beltless dark-gray sharkskin slacks, a face towel across his bare shoulders. A pre-shaving ritual had already been put into effect. The window blind had ben raised half-way; the bathroom door had been set ajar to let the steam escape and clear the mirrors; a cigarette had been lit, dragged on, and placed within easy reach on the frosted-glass ledge under the medicine cabinet mirror. At the moment, Zooey had just finished squeezing lather cream onto the end of a shaving brush. He put the tube of lather, without re-capping it, somewhere into the enamel background, out of his way.

It’s that last line that I’m interested in. Because suddenly, Salinger describes the edge or boundary of his fictional universe. The Glass family has an edge, a flanking, out-of-focus space, or as that enamel background, off-stage, where one can put things when they are no longer needed. That space does not need specific definition, it does not demand a name and as such stands in stark contrast to the otherwise laborious stage Salinger has set. It’s almost as though Salinger is referencing film–what is reinforced by a later description of Zooey’s shaving technique, during which he avoids looking at his overall face and focuses instead on his own eyes–as though to dissuade any predilection towards vanity.

Really, though, I just got very excited about that “edge.” I re-read Franny & Zooey over vacation after it’d been recommended to me about four times. And of course, I liked it. It’s like an old friend, kind of and I think Salinger is also brilliant, obviously. Having said that, I couldn’t help feeling like he was writing in a good-story way, a way that maybe was too easy to settle in to. A story about people talking and feeling about other people via these intricate landscapes of objects. Which is to say, I wondered about the element of surprise. I didn’t feel like Salinger was going to surprise me in any way. And then. There it was. This peculiar edge. Something he mentions and then ignores–as one might, I suppose, were a sidewalk really to end.

posted by Caroline Picard

An Excerpt from Franny & Zooey

by JD Salinger

The room had a single, a southern, exposure. A four-story private school for girls stood directly across the side street–a stolid and rather aloofly anonymous-looking building that rarely came alive till about three-thirty in the afternoon, when public-school children from Third and Second Avenues came to play jacks or stoop-ball on its stone steps. The Glasses had a fifth-story apartment, a story higher than the school building, and at this hour the sun was shining over the school roof and through the Glasses’ naked living-room windows. Sunshine was very unkind to the room. Not only were the furnishing old, intrinsically unlovely, and clotted with memory and sentiment, but the room itself in past years had served as the arena for countless hockey and football (tackle as well as “touch”) games, and there was scarcely a leg on any piece of furniture that wasn’t badly nicked or marred. There were scars much nearer to eye level, too, from a rather awesome variety of airborn objects–beanbags, baseballs, marbles, skate keys, soap erasers, and even, on one well-marked occasion in the early nineteen-thirties, a flying headless porcelain doll. Sunshine, however, was perhaps most particularly unkind to the carpet. It had originally been a port-red color–and by lamplight, at least, still was–but it now featured a number of rather pancreas-shaped faded spots, unsentimental mementos, all, of a series of household pets. The sun at this hour shone as far, as deep, as mercilessly into the room as the television set, striking it squarely on its unblinking cyclopean eye.

posted by caroline picard

This article was published in the NY Times. You can read it in its entirety by going here.

J. D. Salinger, Literary Recluse, Dies at 91

J. D. Salinger, who was thought at one time to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II but who then turned his back on success and adulation, becoming the Garbo of letters, famous for not wanting to be famous, died Wednesday at his home in Cornish, N.H., where he had lived in seclusion for more than 50 years. He was 91.

Mr. Salinger’s literary representative, Harold Ober Associates, announced the death, saying it was of natural causes. “Despite having broken his hip in May,” the agency said, “his health had been excellent until a rather sudden decline after the new year. He was not in any pain before or at the time of his death.”

Mr. Salinger’s literary reputation rests on a slender but enormously influential body of published work: the novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” the collection “Nine Stories” and two compilations, each with two long stories about the fictional Glass family: “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.”

“Catcher” was published in 1951, and its very first sentence, distantly echoing Mark Twain, struck a brash new note in American literature: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

Posted by Nick Sarno

 

From The Bookseller.com:

A former gravedigger and debut novelist has penned a sequel to J D Salinger’s seminal work The Catcher in the Rye which is due to be released next month.

Swedish/American travel writer, John David California, wrote 60 Years Later Coming Through the Rye after a becoming “captivated” by the story of Holden Caulfield. California said he first became acquainted with The Catcher in the Rye after finding a well-thumbed copy in an abandoned cabin in rural Cambodia.

Published by Windupbird Publishing, the book is billed as ‘freestanding’ and so can be read without first reading the novel that inspired it. As the title suggests, the book tells the story of Caulfield 60 years later when he is 76-year-old resident of a nursing home.

Windupbird describes him as a “bewildered old man who is suddenly and maliciously yanked back onto the page by his creator”. Caulfield comes to his senses and has an overwhelming compulsion to flee. He boards a bus and embarks on a curious journey through the streets of New York and “many poignant memories of his adulthood”.

Go here to read the rest, and go here to read another article about the book.

Here are the things that sound a little fishy:

1. “A former gravedigger”. This isn’t to say that gravediggers, both ex- and current, can’t write novels. It’s just a little too sweet (see: JT Leroy).

2. He first became acquainted with the original after finding “a well-thumbed copy in an abandoned cabin in rural Cambodia”. The phrase well-thumbed sounds like a tip off to an urban legend. Also, if you’re able to make it to an abandoned cabin in Cambodia, you’ve also probably heard of The Catcher in the Rye. It’s kind of like not hearing about baseball until your eye-opening trip to Japan.

3. A search for “Windupbird Publishing” pulls up only information on this book. Much of it in Russian.

4. No copyright problems? With Salinger? 

5. On the Amazon page, the publisher is listed as “Nicotext”. From Nicotext’s mission: “We make books whose sole purpose it is to make you giggle. While thumbing our collective nose at the literati, we have found our niche amongst the useless, the trivial and the potentially offensive. The books in our catalogue may not reflect our capacity for intellectual athleticism, but they will put a smile on your face, which is our main objective.” They put out books like “The Macho Man’s (Bad) Joke Book” and “Extreme Sports”.

6. John Davis California? Like JD California? Seriously.

All I’m saying is, if you are going to come up with a hoax make it either A) believable or B) funny.