I spent a lot of time yesterday reading about J.D. Salinger, who died on January 27, at his refuge in Cornish, New Hampshire. Like many, I was a big fan of Catcher in the Rye, which I first read in my early teens. But I was an even bigger fan of his short stories. His death is a bit ironic, because I just recently learned that he was still alive. Over the holidays, I re-read my favorite, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” and then googled JD only to discover that, at the time, he was alive and well.
I have always been intrigued by his loathing of publicity and attention, his overriding need for privacy, that took him into total seclusion in the 1960s. Although he dropped out of the spotlight, he apparently did not stop writing. In a 1974 interview with The New York Times, he explained: “There is a marvelous peace in not publishing … I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.” That’s a wonderful quote! The rumor is that he completed at least two more novels in his seclusion and a number of stories. I guess there’s a chance they will now be published…
Switching gears – Salinger’s thoughts on writing are similar to my thoughts on photography. Not saying I’m the J.D of the photography world – just that most of the pictures I take are for me. I photograph things I like or shoot things I think would look good photographed. Folks ask me if I ever thought about making a living at photography, but I think being told what and when to shoot would kill the enjoyment. I’m very happy if others like the pictures, but I don’t want that to be the reason to do it – it could kill the pleasure.
Of all the news items concurring Salinger’s death, I liked this one from the New York Times the best. It provides a great overview of his life and contribution to literature, and provides links to a number of other good articles.