You, indulgent readers, must be bored to stupefaction by my J. D. Salinger blogs by now, so I’ve gathered together my last comments and we’ll all move on.
The Zooey section of Salinger’s book, Franny & Zooey, opens with Zooey in the bathtub rereading a four-year-old letter from his deceased older brother that had been folded and refolded many times and was frayed from wear.
Important hand-written letters were once kept for years and reread many times. We may have found such letters among our parents’ belongings and may even have a few of our own from earlier days. Today we only write e-mails, if that, and saving one for more than a week is a long time. Once it is marked as “old mail” it is usually forgotten and automatically deleted by our provider after a month. The emotional response to a hand-written note just does not translate to e-mail.
When doing a quick Google search on “bananafish,” a mythical fish in one of Salinger’s short stories, up popped an Amazon ad assuring me I could buy bananafish from them, even including free shipping on orders over $25. I should order a half dozen frozen filets. Yum, yum!
Author Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame writes a blog of his own called “The Old Scout” at http://www.publicradio.org/columns/prairiehome/the_old_scout/ Keillor is a classic workaholic what with his weekly radio show, his books and other writing, and even a movie, and he is understandably miffed at Salinger’s work ethic. Keillor says, “No American author ever held onto such fame for so long for having done so little work. The junior members of the firm, John Updike and Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates, were busy, busy, busy, year after year after year, while Mr. Salinger lounged in Cornish, famous for not wanting to be famous, and sales of his slender “Catcher in the Rye” kept chunking along, his slender “Nine Stories” and “Franny and Zooey” still adored by the faithful. What a perfect dodge for a guy who is tired of working so hard! You leave town in a huff and become a celebrity recluse and you get to spend 50 years enjoying leisurely breakfasts and maintaining your bird feeders while collecting buckets of royalties. And when you die, it’s huge.”
I love it!