I think I feel the same way about this as I would if I re-read Catcher In The Rye. Yup. Adequate. Not really mind-blowing. Until the last story, “Teddy.” Which is weird because it’s exactly the sort of mysticism I usually cringe at, but I loved it.
I read this on a Salinger glut in high school but can’t remember shit about it. Ain’t that the way when you cram? Overall I agree that Salinger is not really as mind-blowing as he’s made out to be in lit circles. I think my fave of his is Franny and Zooey. Why the cultish adoration? Just because he was a social freak and wrote a banned book?
Yeah, I don’t get it. I just did mild research (which means Wikipedia, though Salinger’s page is heavily cited and seems fairly reliable) to try to figure out the adoration. Catcher in the Rye still sells 250,000 copies a year, which is mind-boggling to me. I read it in high school, when I was supposed to, as a disaffected youth and I was largely untouched. I think I remember wondering what the big deal was. I was more of a badass than Holden and I’m a pussy. I realize the times are different and all that, but how can it still sell that many copies then? High school kids still read that book.
On his first published story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” Wikipedia says, “[The New Yorker] was so impressed with ‘the singular quality of the story’ that its editors accepted it for publication immediately, and signed Salinger to a contract that allowed them right of first refusal on any future stories.” And the concept of everything’s perfect until someone kills himself at the end is a “mind-blowing” conceit I would have tried to use when I first started writing.
I realize I’m backlashing a bit here, but he was an average writer. Certainly while reading Nine Stories (and so far as I remember, while reading Catcher in the Rye), a light was never shined on the human condition. He wasn’t even all that reclusive. At least not cult reclusive, like hiding in underground bunkers and whatnot.