Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

This is an op-ed / obit from the brilliant (and incredibly well-read) writer/composer Ian Gray on the recently departed J.D. Salinger. If any of you are a fan of Salinger, the true Salinger, in all of his “Teddy”, “F&Z”, “Carpenters”, “Banana Fish,” “Down at the Dinghy” glory — then you will enjoy:

Unthinkable as it seems to be to talk about J.D. Salinger without cornering The Catcher in the Rye, or speculating on his withdrawal from society, nonetheless it seems incumbent upon us to consider, you know, those other 60 years of literary activity quite apart from, depending on your view, the respective fame or infame of both Catcher and the recluse.
His first concern was for the poet, followed closely, and perhaps analogously, by children. The invention of the Glass family gave him easy access to both, with a ready-made index of a kind of Vendantic Kids Say the Darndest Things in the form of a radio quiz show called, It’s a Wise Child, on which all the Glass children were shining, if reluctant, stars. These children all grew up to be entirely poetic adults, each with a different complexion, or meter, with one outstanding specimen in the person of the eldest of the lot, Seymour Glass.
Salinger’s approach to the touchy business of writing about the most elusive subjects, poetry and children, was endearingly uncerimonious. We are charmed, seduced, really, into an audience with Christ, or Issa, or Vivikenanda with a deftness and naturalism reminiscent of a modern day Montaigne, leaning out of a window on the Upper East Side.
Like Kafka, he said yes to everything, on the legitimate basis that it is consecrated, or hallowed, be it a bowl of chicken soup or the word goddam or a set of glowingly yellow teeth; all of these are an expression of the fat lady, chain smoking and cancer-ridden, with veiny legs pushing an old creaking rocking chair on a porch beat to hell. Or, in other words, Christ Himself, buddy, Christ Himself.
§815 · January 29, 2010 · This Modern Life · · [Print]

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