For now, it’s just a headline: J.D. Salinger has died at 91. Relish this moment and flip through his paperback classics (my fave: Franny and Zooey). In a matter of minutes, journalists and authors (a lot of graying white dudes) are gonna shower us with plenty of purple on Salinger’s importance, wildly speculate on why he turned recluse, and wonder what the fuck he’d been up to all those years being kinda weird and dicky. Did he write more? Is there more to the Glass family saga? Did he secretly co-write a script with Wes Anderson just before his death?
Salinger is one of the few heavyweights who deserves a lot of attention in death. He had the ability to attract not just Slate readers or high-school nerds, but, well, everybody. Years ago, I interviewed a band in L.A. At the end of the interview, the bass player popped the trunk of his car. It was filled with old Salinger paperbacks. He said he always had Salinger on hand to give out to people he met. He then handed me a short stack. I still have them. And well, many more copies if anyone needs one.
Now his death has hit the AP. Let the purple prose and pop-psych analysis begin!