Sunday, January 31, 2010

coming through the rye


J.D. Salinger died Wednesday. I thought he had already died.
My first experience with Catcher in the Rye came by way of Mr.Wiseman, my 8th grade English teacher. He read it out loud to our whole class. I remember him snickering in parts (at the word fart) and breaking away from the text to ask us if we were ‘getting it’. Phonies, he snorted, the world is full of phonies.

In Junior High Honors English Kenz came home with a recommended reading list. Catcher in the Rye was listed, but optional as it contained, uh, mature themes, as in smut and sadness. In an act of bad or smug parenting I decided that Catcher would be a good book for Kenz to read. I didn’t, however, want her to read it by herself. I thought she needed guidance and discussion. So I read it to her. Out loud.

I remember reading it to her in snatches. Here a little, there a little, even while visiting Grandma Cook in Ogden. We sat on the couch and I whisper/read to her while ld and his mom were in the kitchen.

It’s true. I read Catcher in the Rye aloud to my young impressionable Kenz.

Don’t judge me.

We discussed.

"Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them - if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry."
~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 24, spoken by the character Mr. Antolini

1 comment:

Lacy E. (as in Eloise, formerly Lee) said...

I love that you read this out loud to Kenz. Quite the experience, I'm certain. I didn't read Salinger's other stuff (Franny & Zooey, Nine Stories, Seymour an Introduction) until my 20s, and then I couldn't help but wonder why he was most famous for Catcher in the Rye--I thought these other works were so much better!

Anyway, they had this bootleg collection of some of his other stories (previously published in the New Yorker and the like) in the UofA Special Collections vault and I would go and read them and feel like the owner of the best-kept illegal secret in the world.

My only hope is that his will dictates that all the stuff he's been writing in hermitude for the last 40+ years will now be published!