Goodbye J.D.–goddam genius

January 29, 2010

Men of a certain age, and women too, can’t think of adolescence without images of Holden Caufield or Franny Glass. We hold on to the stories and novels of J.D. Salinger despite his ornery refusal to have given us but a few tidbits to chew on all these years. Now that he is gone, we’re still wistful and angry.

Yes, young people that weren’t born during the baby boom have their J.D. But our generation lived the contradictions of Salinger’s youthful angst. The Cuban missile crisis, the blacklist, the deaths of Kennedys and Kings and Monroes. It all goes together with that up yours attitude that Salinger grabbed out of the air in the early ’50s and made into a cultural badge of honor. Without J.D. there couldn’t have been a Jim Morrison, a Grace Slick, or maybe even a Richard Prior.

Will we miss you J.D., you goddam genius? No, because we said goodbye thirty years ago. But then again, we could use a little angry, ironic, irreverent fiction right now, the kind only you can write.

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