J. D. Salinger has died. The famously reclusive author of Catcher in the Rye and many short stories was 91.
Salinger started publishing in The New Yorker at an early stage of his year. They eventually published 7 short stories. Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951, brought him fame and the kind of attention he grew to hate, although it made Holden Caulfield into an iconic literary creation (Holden had actually appeared earlier in a short story). While not as mysterious at Thomas Pynchon (who is he?!) Salinger retreated to the countryside of New Hampshire to try to lead a simple life.
Salinger apparently continued to write throughout his life, but simply stopped publishing his work after the 1960s. There is ongoing speculation about whether of this work will ever be published.
I always had written nonfiction because I thought that I couldn't write fiction. It was frustrating. I couldn't come up with ideas, of if I did, I couldn't come up with interesting plots. I knew I was a talented writer, but why couldn't I write fiction? Did I have no imagination? But I knew that wasn't true. Journalism and essays came easily to me. My literature and journalism professors always told me I was gifted. Writing nonfiction was the one thing that I could do well. But I also wanted to write fiction.A few years ago, I re-read Salinger's Nine Stories. I had read it before, but this time it was an epiphany. I read each story carefully, and really thought about it. Suddenly, I was brimming over with ideas of stories of my own. I started scribbling them down, but I could couldn't write quickly enough. It was a real breakthrough. I have no idea if they are any good, but I keep on writing them. What joy!
Rest in Peace, Mr. Salinger.