What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse. β€”The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Yesterday, one of our most cherished writers passed away. J.D Salinger was one of those writers who made readers fall in love with his characters. Holden Caulfield and the Glass family are legends in literary culture. Reading has always been a big part of my life, and their aren’t many characters with whom I actually feel connected somehow. There are only a select few (that I can think of at this point): Holden Caulfield, Jake Barnes (Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises), Esther Greenwood (Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar), and Dorothy Gale ( L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz). I think most bibliophiles can appreciate the voice Salinger created in Catcher. It’s almost unparalleled (well, except for that whole Huck Finn thing). Salinger’s personal life adds even more mystery to the reasons behind his characters and their choices, and his Faulknerian portrayal of the Glass family children is powerful yet sad, in a way that a cool winter evening is sad.

I was genuinely sad to hear the news of Salinger’s death yesterday, even though I know he lived a long life and contributed to the modern literary canon. I felt the same way when Kurt Vonnegut passed away; even though I never had the opportunity to meet either author, I feel a connection to them through their work, a remarkable benefit of enjoying literature and books in general.

I can’t really find a way to articulate what I’m trying to say, and I know I’ve been rambling a lot. Oh well. I just wanted to express a small part of the emotion I felt when the author of one of my favorite books sadly passed away. I can only hope he felt the goodbye was adequate.



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