Friday, January 29, 2010


Chapter 1

IF YOU REALLY WANT TO HEAR about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is how I died, and what my lousy life was like, and that I wrote a book that was beloved by teenagers and all, and by phonies who didn't even read it, and how I became a recluse with writer's block and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, you'll read all about it in the phony tributes and eulogies by a bunch of sanctimonious critics in all the fancy papers. Besides, I'm not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything.

I'll just tell you about dying and how, when you're dead, they really fix you up and tell warmhearted stories even if you were a bastard and a real pain in the ass, because that's the way they do it, but if I had my way they'd just dump me in the river. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery where people are always sticking flowers on your stomach on Sunday. Who needs flowers when you're dead? I hate the whole arrangement, and the critics are the worst. They bring flowers, all right, big phony flowery words even though all the time you were alive they were saying you'd never write again, you're a has-been, and your book doesn't bare rereading, plenty of catty cruel stuff, but then you die and they say what a great guy you were and it's pretty crumby.

It's funny. All you have to say is something nobody understands and they'll say you're profound and you're the voice of a generation and then all of a sudden they'll turn on you, and say crumby things and keep saying them until your dead as a doornail. Maybe it's because they're going to die someday, too, and they don't want people saying all the bad stuff after they're dead, saying they picked their nose or cheated on their taxes or acted like selfish arrogant bastards, no, they want people to make up lies when they're sitting in their casket all powdered up. They do that when you're dead, it's like insurance, because they expect the same, even if they treat you bad your entire life and it's pretty crumby. It will make you blue as hell, I swear to God.

Anyway, I better get going. It's terrifically cold and I've got a long way to go.



amity said...

So I am a Holden lover,and Glass family lover, admittedly, but I am able to clearly distinguish between the characters and their creator. A real eye opener for me was reading Joyce Maynard's memoir, the one where she moved in with ole J.D. when she was barely legal; her descriptors of his sexual dysfunction, general prick-ishness, and macrobiotic-related vomiting sessions kinda freaked me out. At any rate, I enjoyed your take on the matter...

Bob Rini said...

The singer and the song. I'm sure Salinger had plenty of weaknesses and foibles like the rest of us and wasn't exactly Holden Caulfield after all, someone we felt we knew so well. Sometimes you want to know the writer and write him a letter, as he said somewhere.

For someone who so cherished his privacy, Salinger didn't seem to deserve all the intimate details of his private life hung on the laundry line in Maynard's memoir, and while I understand it was her life, too, and justifiable as her own story, it seems that it was publishable only because Salinger was such an intensely private man. If she had written about an ex-boyfriend, a plumber who drank too much, say, or an architect with terrible gas, I doubt we'd have seen it in print. It would seem nakedly vindictive, payback time, and probably not fascinating to the average reader, but this is JD Salinger! Who hides from the public!