Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. Salinger

Jerome David Salinger is 90 years old today. He is known mostly for writing the novel The Catcher in the Rye.

He was born in NYC, the son of a Kosher cheese man and was expected to find his living in kosher cold meats and cheeses. His mother Miriam surprised her young son when she admitted that she was a Scots- Irish lass who had changed her name from Mary to Marie to Miriam as she converted to Judaism. J.D. tried the kosher food business, served in WW2, and thought about a career in acting. One writing class changed everything for him.

One of my favorite short stories of all time is For Esme with Love and Squalor. It's been called a minor masterpiece, and I agree.

I wanted to slap the matron of honor in Raise High the Roofbeams, but she is a wonderful character, and there is something so familiar in Franny clutching that little book, The Way of a Pilgrim, and moving her lips in silent prayer in Franny & Zooey.

To the Elusive Mr. S. Happy Birthday and Happy New Year.

This post starts off my American Author's Week. Seven Days of American Writing. Salinger was influenced by several American authors (Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner, & O.Henry among others.)

I don't know how or when I discovered the short stories of Ring Lardner. I always liked to carry a volume of short stories with me in case of a short reading opportunity, and so I bought lots and lots. (In line at Disneyland or at the DMV ~ you'll need a novel for those kind of waits.) But short stories are very nice ~ reading one is like having a nice cup of tea.


R.L. Bourges said...

Happy New Year and great reading to you thoughout 2009.

tony said...

May All Your Years Be Happy New Ones!
Just before Xmas I bought (in a "ONE-POUND SHOP" in Halifax!) "THE SEPARATION " by Christopher Priest.Have You read ?It seems an apt book for a new year.I just found this rather qualified Review.But I Dont Care.........! I'm halfway through it + 'am rather enjoying it.

Avid Reader said...

Tony, I've added it to my booklist. Thanks! Reviews are funny things sometimes. One person's treasure is another's trash--that is so true.

tony said...


Deborah Godin said...

I hadn't known that today was his birthday. If I had to pick one book that perhaps influenced me most in my life, in several fundamental areas (and all for the good) I would say without hesitation is was Frannie and Zooey.

My Classic Fiction Book List -Partial List

  • Austen, Jane: (Complete Works)
  • Balzac: Cousin Bette/ Eugenie Grandet / Cousin Pons
  • Best Russian Short Stories
  • Boyle, TC: Short Works
  • Brennan, Maeve : Short Works, 1 Novella
  • Bronte, Emily, Ann, Jane (Complete Works)
  • Brookner, Anita ( Complete Works)
  • Cather, Willa (Complete Works)
  • Chekov: Short Works
  • David Copperfield (Dickens)
  • Dickens:A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens:Great Expectations
  • Dickens:Nicholas Nickelby
  • Dickens:Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens:The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Doyle, Roddy (some novels, memoir)
  • Drabble, Margaret (4 Novels)
  • Drieser, Theodore (Complete Works)
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott (Most Novels & short works)
  • Hardy, Thomas (Complete Works)
  • Hemingway, Short stories
  • Hemingway: The Old Man in the Sea
  • Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  • Hugo: Les Miserables/Hunchback Of ND
  • James, Henry: Daisy Miller
  • James, Henry: In The Cage
  • James, Henry: Portrait of a Lady
  • James, Henry: The Golden Bowl
  • James, Henry: What Maisy Knew
  • James, Henry: Wings of a Dove
  • James, Henry:The Ambassadors
  • James, Henry; The Bostonians
  • Kerouac: Dharma Bums
  • Kerouac: On The Road
  • Kerouac: The Subterraneans
  • Kerouac: Tristessa
  • Lardner,Ring:Short Works
  • Larsen: Quicksand
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Arrowsmith
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Free Air
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street
  • Lewis, Sinclair: The Job
  • MacGill, Patrick (Complete works)
  • Mackin, Walter (novels)
  • Maupassant: Short Works, novels
  • McGahern, John (novels of)
  • McNulty, John (Short Works)
  • Norris, Frank: McTeague
  • O'Brien, Edna (3 Novels)
  • O'Donnell, Paeder : Novels of
  • O. Henry
  • Potok, Chaim (4 novels/1 non fiction)
  • Salinger, JD : Nine Stories
  • Salinger: Franny & Zooey
  • Salinger: Raise High the Roofbeams
  • Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Dodsworth
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Elmer Gantry
  • Sinclair, Upton: King Coal
  • Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle
  • Steinbeck, John: Sweet Thursday
  • Steinbeck: Winter of our Discontent
  • Steinbeck: Cannery Row
  • Steinbeck: East of Eden
  • Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Theroux, Paul (3 Novels )
  • Toibin, Colm: (Novels of)
  • Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Tolstoy: Short Works
  • Turgenev (2 novels)
  • Twain: T Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi
  • Vonnegut: Early Works (1950s-60s)
  • Wharton, Edith: Novels of/Short Stories
  • Women & Fiction (Edit. Cahill)
  • Zola, Emile ( 10 novels)