JD Salinger Not So Reclusive After All
Turns out the old man pulled a fast one on us.
When I was a kid nothing seemed as cool as McDonald’s. It’s not that we didn’t eat any fast food—my mother would really prefer that we stick to her homemade meals of borscht and salmon mousse, but if we begged doggedly enough we could find our way into the drive-through. But for my mother, Burger King burgers were far superior to McDonald’s. If we were going to insist on fast food she was going to draw the line at BK.
Turns out JD Salinger was cut from the same cloth as my mom. The Guardian today reports that a new batch of previously unseen letters has been unearthed between Salinger and his longtime friend and pen pal Donald Hartog. The letters reveal, along with Salinger’s proclivity for Burger King over other fast-food restaurants, a fondness for watching tennis—another big activity around my own house in the summers.
But most notably, the letters discount the popular myth that Salinger was a hermetic weirdo, hidden away in his New Hampshire cottage like Colonel Kurtz from “Apocalypse Now.” The letters refute this: far from a guy who never leaves the house, they even mention a fondness for taking group bus trips to Niagara Falls.”This is another Salinger, this is an ordinary Salinger, not the reclusive, angry person people thought he was.” The report makes him sound more like one of those old people who spend their retirement touring on group cruises, taking pictures of their dinner.
I guess if you’re not super famous most old people pretty much look the same—like babies in reverse. It’s probably pretty easy to blend into a group bus tour to Niagara Falls with no one the wiser.
I like Salinger as much as the next guy, but more than anything these letters are just whetting my appetite for the new John Lennon letters coming out next year. There’s gotta be some gems in there—after all, this is a guy who claimed to have taken acid every single day for three years; he could take trips to Niagara falls without even leaving the house.