J.D. Salinger has died at the age of 91.
I’ve always admired Salinger for his unshakable dedication to craft rather than publication. I love the line quoted in this article: “There’s. . .peace in not publishing.” Read that full quote. Read it and understand it. Read it and apply it to your allegiance to your own life. Read it and make your peace.
Salinger was a craftsperson. He created living, breathing, three-dimensional characters moving and speaking in a real world not because he thought those were the characters that would sell, but because that’s what made him happy. He wrote because he loved to write. And he certainly lived to regret the publicity that came with accidentally striking a nerve with his readership.
I have a theory about Salinger’s work and his desperate determination to guard his privacy. I think Salinger loved a man once, a brother-type (he had no brothers), someone he looked up to who taught him a little about philosophy and life and meaning. Someone who died young.
I think he wrote his books as an expression of his love for that man. And I think he guarded his privacy to prevent the media from discovering who it was and defacing that man’s memory.
Salinger gave every indication that he continued to write long after he stopped publishing and even granted his heirs permission to publish what he was writing—earn whatever they wanted from it—so long as they waited until he was gone.
We can be pretty certain the next few years will not only see a goldmine of Salinger stories hitting the market, but I believe we’ll also learn who the model for Seymour Glass really was, how Salinger knew him, and where he died.
My opinion? I have no doubt this all happened in France, a very long time ago.