If I was going to craft a list of the top 10 books of the 20th century in our nation’s English classes, the ones that have most shaped, informed, been taught, and so on, I have a feeling The Catcher in the Rye would make the list.
Today we note that the author of that work, J.D. Salinger, passed away yesterday at the age of 91.
I always really liked the fact that Salinger was a so-called “recluse”. Especially since in this day and age, the rush for media attention on behalf of every Tom, Dick and American Idol Harry kinda irks me. I mean here’s a guy who has sold about 250,000 copies of his book a year every year for about five decades. (Wow, right?) And yet, his last official interview was in 1980.
How much do I wish that Ann Coulter’s last official interview was in 1980, huh?
And Salinger’s last published work was in 1965. But do you think he stopped writing? Personally, I don’t. Does that mean someone is sitting on a few manuscripts that might be genuine treasures?
Does that mean that Salinger had a bonfire filled with manuscripts we’ll never get to read. Or better yet, assign theme papers about.
Discuss the theme of angst and rebellion evidenced by Holden Caulfiend in the novel The Catcher in the Rye and illuminate why the protagonist’s nervous breakdown represents the breakdown of the modern American family’s sense of genuine intimacy. And be sure to use MLA format.
Sheesh! Teenagers everywhere should be kneeling that he never published again. It saved them mountains of 5 paragraph essays!
Maybe a grandkid will inherit a bounty of books written by his grandpa that will one day see the light of day? And maybe, what we got is all we’ll get.
Was he liberated by his success or a prisoner of it? Probably both.
Either way, as an English teacher I just hope someone is going through his attic. After all, there are essays to assign!