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J. D. Salinger

Posted March 28, 2010

 Having become an iconic New Hampshire reclusive during his later decades, the 'mystery' of author J. D. Salinger's whereabouts has fed the intrigue and the perpetuating classroom and booklover discussions. At least twice a year, young folks....

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Hedgehog's Whimsey Books

Hedgehog's Whimsey Books

355 Chandlers Mills Road, Newport, NH 03773 USA 603 542-1520
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New England, US History, Writers, Journalism, Arab Studies, Fiction, Sustainability, Children's, Hand & Visual Arts, Music, Old Newspapers, more ...

Hi, Folks ... Mom said, 'I need to downsize'. Moving to assisted living, what she couldn't take included 8,000-plus books & records. A decade later, my upcountry barn is bursting. Books multiply as others recycle priorities. I now have 30,000 or more books looking for good homes, and my learning curve has been a roller coaster. I celebrate word-crafters, thought-tumblers, laughter ... the arts of communication at every turn. I preserve, protect, and share. I am also Hedgehog Publishing, 'Words & Pictures by & for Folks with Prickly Backs, Soft Bellies, & Small Brains'.

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J. D. Salinger

Posted by Hedgehog's Whimsey Books on March 28, 2010

 Having become an iconic New Hampshire reclusive during his later decades, the 'mystery' of author J. D. Salinger's whereabouts has fed the intrigue and the perpetuating classroom and booklover discussions. At least twice a year, young folks in particular would come into Hedgehog's Whimsey Books in Newport NH, down the road from Cornish, look for his titles, and then sheepishly asking to be directed to his home so they could meet the master.

  I shouldn't, wouldn't, I would reply. If he wants to hold court, I suggested, he could and would. In the meantime, neighbors and friends choose to respect his privacy.

  This winter, Salinger died. Months later, his 'The Catcher in the Rye' breakout 1951 novel and its reprints have been consistently among the top five titles purchased at my bookstore's listing site, alibris.com, where I am one of many booksellers.

  Having not read this tale of Holden Caulfield since high school days, I figured I had better pick it up again. In fact, there are many titles I should read again. So, last week I read 'Catcher' with new eyes. When first published, folks were either delighted to find their own voices in the character Caulfield or appalled by the free use of language, repetitive commentary and a general departure from literary style of the era.

  Considered an enduring coming-of-age, male-based classic, 'Catcher' caught my attention again from the get-go. This time, though, I worried about the young man Holden Caulfield and his mental health as I would one of my own. His intolerance for hypocrisy I applauded all over again and now pondered where that lesson had been lost over the decades of new readers. But I recognized this time in Holden a failure to express his views to most others in the story. That in itself seems hypocritical. I found his characterization by Salinger intriguing for me as a writer, rather than recognizing in Caulfield a peer this time around.

  Considering the language that first brought criticism among the literati (stuffed shirts and 'phonies'), it is pretty tame in today's circles. And, with this reading, I found this work to be less a coming-of-age tale, and more of a psychological breakdown by the lead character, Caulfield.

  Salinger marked new territory with his writing in getting this work published 60 years ago. Little, Brown and Company showed publishing courage in 1951 to put his words in print. Two earlier chapters (edited) had appeared in Collier's and The New Yorker during 1945, 1946.

  What do you think? 
  Have you read 'The Catcher in the Rye' recently? 
  What do you remember of related classroom discussions or personal impact?
  Could it, would it be published today?

  I'd be pleased to have your feedback; please send to

        hedgehogs.books@gmail.com

I will post in my store a printout of your comments unless you ask me not to do so.