Salinger dies at age 91

J.D. Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye, died at age 91 in his home in Cornish, N.Y.

I read his books many times in high school and college, especially Franny and Zooey, the novel that spoke the most about the experience of a spiritual seeker who is the child of a Christian mom and a Jewish dad. No one can say if that was also Salinger’s experience. He was famous for being a private person. His daughter and one of his girlfriends each wrote memoirs about him, but it will take years to piece together his inner life, in particular because he had reserved some of his writing to be published after his death.

Nearly everyone who went to high school in the United States read The Catcher in the Rye. If you haven’t read Salinger’s other stories, from Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters and Nine Stories, I hope you’ll use the occasion of his death to take a look at them, and see why so many readers are expressing sadness for his loss today.

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2 thoughts on “Salinger dies at age 91

  1. Dear Ruth:

    A very nice tribute to Mr. Salinger!

    I know you will be as surprised as I was, but one tribute to Mr. Salinger, by a former neighbor of his in Cornish, NH — who has become a Jew by Choice — was savagely attacked for suggesting that Mr. Salinger was a Jew.

    I finally had to wade into the thread and explain that yes, Mr. Salinger was raised as a Jew, and had a Jewish father. See below:

    http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-cultu … mment-9730

    Cordially,
    Robin Margolis
    http://www.half-jewish.net
    http://www.inclusivistjudaism.wordpress.com

  2. I was a little hesitant to relate the biographical details about Salinger I had read on the web and in print, because I know how private he was and how much of the picture of his biography is necessarily missing, and in some ways distorted since they come from people with whom he had complicated relationships. The stories Salinger about the Glass family, though, are definitely about children of an interfaith family–spiritual seekers, people dealing with anti-Semitism and trying to forge their individual identities. It seems significant to me that such an important writer tried to capture this particular slice of Jewish experience.

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