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J.D. Salinger turns 90

Author and famous recluse J.D. Salinger turns 90 today.  Like Bob Dylan, either you get it or you don’t, but if you get it, you really, really get it:

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

“I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life.  It’s awful.  If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera.  It’s terrible.

“Take most people, they’re crazy about cars.  They worry if they get a little scratch on them, and they’re always talking about how many miles they get to a gallon, and if they get a brand-new car already they start thinking about trading it in for one that’s even newer.  I don’t even like old cars.  I mean they don’t even interest me.  I’d rather have a goddamn horse.  A horse is at least human, for God’s sake.”

“It’s funny.  All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.”

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all.  Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me.  And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff.  What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.  That’s all I do all day.  I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.  I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”

Still Paging Mr. Salinger by Charles McGrath at The New York Times.


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