J. D. Salinger

J. D. Salinger by George H. Rothacker - acrylic on canvas -  24" x 24" - Original painting $2400, prints @$90 each plus tax and shipping (Prints are an edition of 50, signed, titled and numbered with an image area of 13"x 13").

I came upon Jerome David Salinger and his 1951 classic The Catcher in the Rye in my 10th grade English class. I don't remember whether it was a required read or selected, but I know I was neither shocked nor inspired by the book. As a non-reader and unabashedly young for my years, I didn't get what all of the fuss was about. My choices and objectives were much narrower than those of the main character Holden Caulfield, and my experiences had not yet prepared me for the emotional confusions presented in the book's plot.

By the time I reached the end of high school, I became more emotionally and intellectually aware. As often happens, a girl was involved in my transition from a single focused child of simple interests to a many headed hydra of unclear thoughts and feelings.

During this time, I began to read everything I could to make my being smart enough for acceptance by a female who admired "brains" above all else. During my high school years, Salinger had drafted two short stories, Franny and Zooey.  Franny and Zooey were siblings, and Zooey, the male, was obviously the "genius" I never would be. I had already been intimidated by Amory Blaine, the protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel This Side of Paradise,as well as by the young author himself, who had such brilliance and command of life at such an early age. Salinger's Zooey devastated me with a picture of a future without the ideal intellect necessary to accomplish anything meaningful in life, or win the heart of the girl I so very much idolized.

Though written for the adult market, Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye, became a favorite of adolescent readers and remains widely read and controversial to this day, still selling nearly 250,000 copies annually.

Over the years I discovered that although both Salinger and Fitzgerald experienced great early successes and achieved everlasting fame, their later work did not transition well to new audiences and/or a new era, with their brilliance remaining entrapped in youth. Both authors experienced difficult later years; Fitzgerald died at 44 and Salinger stopped publishing at 46.

J. D. Salinger
Next Writer