As advised by Darin Strauss at a writer’s conference, “Characters must be memorable, surprising and move within their essence. Most of all, they need to have their uniqueness made clear.”“When you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.” (From J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye)
“You ought to go to a boys’ school sometime. Try it sometime,” I said. “It’s full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddamn Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddamn cliques. The guys that are on the basketball team stick together, the Catholics stick together, the goddamn intellectuals stick together, the guys that play bridge stick together. Even the guys that belong to the goddamn Book-of-the-Month Club stick together. If you try to have a little intelligent–” “Look,” I said. “Here’s my idea. How would you like to get the hell out of here? Here’s my idea. I know this guy down in Greenwich Village that we can borrow his car for a couple of weeks. He used to go to the same school I did and he still owes me ten bucks. What we could do is, tomorrow morning we could drive up to Massachusetts and Vermont, and all around there, see. It’s beautiful as hell up there, It really is.” I was getting excited as hell, the more I thought of it, and I sort of reached over and took old Sally’s goddamn hand. What a goddamn fool I was. “No kidding,” I said. “I have about a hundred and eighty bucks in the bank. I can take it out when it opens in the morning, and then I could go down and get this guy’s car. No kidding. We’ll stay in these cabin camps and stuff like that till the dough runs out. Then, when the dough runs out, I could get a job somewhere and we could live somewhere with a brook and all and, later on, we could get married or something. I could chop all our own wood in the wintertime and all. Honest to God, we could have a terrific time! Wuddaya say? C’mon! Wuddaya say? Will you do it with me? Please!”
Like many, I am curious about the enigma of J.D. Salinger. I would like to know why, after writing The Catcher in the Rye, he vanished from the public eye so long ago. The film Salinger doesn’t answer any questions but rather is an an indicator for why Salinger never emerged.
There are a few interesting interviews: Jean Miller, the muse for For Esme – with Love and Squalor, is interviewed extensively about her relationship as a teenager with Salinger.An old friend A.E. Hotchner, tells how his relationship with Salinger ended suddenly when, unbeknownst to him, his magazine, Cosmopolitan, published a Salinger short story, Scratchy Needles on a Phonograph Record, but changed the title to Blue Melody.There is some thought-provoking conjecture regarding his wartime experiences, his fixation on young women and his dedication to his writing, as well as his secluded life in Cornish, New Hampshire.
But it amounts to little more than sensational hyperbole; either the people don’t know him, or did briefly long ago, or they have an ax to grind. It’s an attention-seeking movie in the end, re-affirming Salinger’s point of staying away.