Alas, Mr. Salinger is dead

The car moved west, directly, as it were, into the open furnace of the late-afternoon sky. It continued west for two blocks, till it reached Madison Avenue, and then it right-angled sharply north. I felt as though we were all being saved from being caught up by the sun’s terrible flue only by the anonymous driver’s enormous alertness and skill.

The first four or five blocks north on Madison, conversation in the car was chiefly limited to remarks like ‘Am I giving you enough room?’ and ‘I’ve never been so hot in my entire life.’ The one who had never been so hot in her entire life was, as I’d learned from a certain amount of eavesdropping at the curb, the bride’s Matron of Honor. She was a hefty girl of about twenty-four or -five, in a pink satin dress, with a circlet of artificial forget-me-nots in her hair.

There was a distinctly athletic ethos about her, as if, a year or two earlier, she might have majored in physical education in college. In her lap she was holding a bouquet of gardenias rather as though it were a deflated volley-ball. She was seated in the back of the car, hippressed between her husband and a tiny elderly man in a top hat and cutaway, who was holding an unlighted clear-Havana cigar.

Mrs Silsburn and I – our respective inside knees unribaldly touching-occupied the jump seats. Twice, without any excuse whatever, out of sheer approval, I glanced around at the tiny elderly man. When I’d originally loaded the car and held the door open for him, I’d had a passing impulse to pick him up bodily and insert him gently through the open window. He was tininess itself, surely being not more than four nine or ten and without being either a midget or a dwarf. In the car, he sat staring very severely straight ahead of him. On my second look around at him, I noticed that he had what very much appeared to be an old gravy stain on the lapel of his cutaway. I also noticed that his silk hat cleared the roof of the car by a good four or five inches.

13 Comments

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

In honor of his passing, I'll be locking myself away from all humanity, consuming megadoses of vitamin C, speaking in tongues, and drinking my own urine. So, y'know, just another Thursday night.

Calk

about 11 years ago

Wow, I feel like my adolescence has ended.

Purple

about 11 years ago

Barrett, make sure to eat your frozen peas!

dropkick

about 11 years ago

I hope some adoring fan scrawls "fuck you" on his grave.

Purple

about 11 years ago

Sadly, he died 50 years ago. And I feel it is tragic the way he spent his last 50 years. I hope that I, a person of unimportance to the wide-world, will not suffer in isolation.

Some news sources tell of neighbors who "protected" him and that he has a vault of many completed works. If that be so, and he has an estate guarantee who wishes to publish his works, then he may find a better after-life for his reader if not for himself.

(note to friends, please do not let me isolate myself and subside on frozen pea & urine; In all sincerity, I have my demons & issues which is why I find his" real" death 50 years ago tragic.

hbh

about 11 years ago

When that English teacher in the DNT said that the book was "hard" for kids to read, I cried a little harder.

gullsgate

about 11 years ago

The 'isolated recluse' may be another urban myth perpetuated on Salinger by reporters or curiousity seekers who weren't able to stick a camera in Salinger's face at will, like some 'celeb wannabes' are known to do.

Read the New York Times story on their website...gives one a totally differant picture.

Real talent doesn't necessarily live in the camera's eye.

Jesse G

about 11 years ago

After reading The Catcher in the Rye, I nearly pissed myself laughing at the title.

"The Onion: Bunch of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger"

gullsgate

about 11 years ago

Alas, a laugh?
Chalk it up to literary incontinence...

Jesse G

about 11 years ago

What? I am talking about The Onion's satirical piece on Salinger.

gullsgate

about 11 years ago

Peel the 'Onion'...try the fine/funny words of the man himself:

"I hope to hell when I die somebody has the sense to just dump me in a river or something.
Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetary.
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." J.D,Salinger...so it goes...

davids

about 11 years ago

gullsgate,

Thanks for the tip to read that NYTimes article--interesting that the media myth of his recluse status doesn't really live up to the reality in which he lived as a quiet member of a small, rural community. What a cool bunch of country people to accept him as just another "Jerry" and not offer him up to "celebrity seekers"! Not sure, in this "reality tv" era with everyone demanding their 15 milliseconds of fame, that such communities are being cultivated and supported very effectively for the future.

Here's the link to the NYTimes article gullsgate mentions--it's worth reading, even if you're not a Salinger phonie:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/01/us/01salinger.html?scp=5&sq=jd%20salinger&st=cse

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