Friday, January 24, 2014

J.D. Salinger's effect on readers

"When we have a premise in mind for a story, we should ask ourselves what we’d least expect to happen and then see if we can make that unexpected turn convincing."  Lee Martin speaking about writing short stories. 

I watched a documentary about J.D. Salinger. He is not one of my favorite writers, but I am intrigued with someone who could sit in a room for forty years and write, alone, isolated from the world, with no plans to publish his work.

His The Catcher in the Rye actually provoked two or more young men to commit murder. John Lennon's murderer said Salinger's book convinced him to put on his people-killing hat and do the deed.

Perhaps Salinger's least expected happening became too convincing to some readers. His writing is said to be so real, he draws his readers deep into his stories, and they have trouble separating themselves from the characters on the page. His fans became devotees, and one man drove 400 miles just to talk with the author, but was disappointed when Salinger brushed him off. "I'm not a counselor," he said to his fan. "I have no answers for you. I ask questions."

Salinger, a recluse for most of his life, died at the age of 91 in 2010. After seeing his life story, I must read some of his work mainly out of curiosity.

Have you read The Catcher in the Rye or other work by Salinger?
What do you think?


Lise said...

I am sure I read Catcher in the Rye in high school but oddly, I recall very little of it. It is fascinating to me that someone's words would inspire another so deeply as to have them commit murder...such unintended power.

Anonymous said...

I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was about eleven years old. Being visually impaired, I listened to recorded books, and at that time, they were distributed on long-playing records. When I was issued a machine that played these records, The Catcher and the Rye was the first book that came with it. It may not have been suitable reading material for a girl my age, and it really didn't mean much to me back then. Maybe I should read it again as an adult.

Glenda Beall said...

Hi Lise and Abbie,
It all depends on where we are in our lives as to what impresses us, doesn't it?
When I was a girl and read Little Women, I was completely impressed by Jo Marsh and always wanted to be like her. Now I hear people say it was not a very good book, or the writing was not so good.
But at the time, it was wonderful to me.
Kids of today will exclaim over the Harry Potter books for the rest of their lives I suspect and all the science fiction and fantasy writing out there.

Maren O. Mitchell said...

Glenda, having read all of J.D. Salinger's books in my twenties, all I know now is that I did enjoy them. But, not being able to remember the stories, I am curious to know if they still appeal to me. I am one-third of the way into "Catcher in the Rye." At first I found the style annoying, but as I continued I found it hard to stop - engrossing. I can see why teens relate to it. I saw the documentary too, was surprised at much of his life.