The other day, I picked up a copy of The Times because of the news of J.D. Salinger’s death on the cover. I read about Catcher in the Rye and its skewering of “phonies”, and how Salinger retreated to his home in New Hampshire and ignored the world for about forty years. Then I read the rest of the paper, an unusual thing for me to do these days. I read an article about Britain’s measure of inequality hitting a new high, and why this was not a bad thing. I read about the latest inquiry into the Iraq War, and how the commission is mostly composed of Tony Blair’s old friends. I read about how Blair, surely the very definition of a phony, would appear before the commission and justify his decision. I read and I read, and the more I read, the more attractive the idea sounded. A house in New Hampshire, the life of a recluse, an escape from the lies and shallowness. Reading The Times these days, or any other Murdoch paper, often has that effect on me.
Anyway, I’m rereading Catcher in the Rye this weekend. I read it years ago but can’t remember much about it. My memory’s awful. I’ll post a review when I’m done. RIP Mr Salinger. In an age where self-publicising seems almost compulsory, it’s refreshing to hear of someone who just didn’t bother. There’s even a rumour that he was writing all that time, not for the world or for fame or for approval or for money, but purely for the love of it. What a strange concept.