Thoughts on J.D. Salinger’s passing…

It’s about the corniest cliché out there, but I read Catcher in the Rye when I was in tenth grade, and it really lit a fire under me, creatively, spiritually, you name it. But I like to think I took it one step further by actually going on to major in Creative Writing in college, chasing something of a dream of becoming a fiction writer. All my short stories had slow-burn plots and muted themes like Catcher, as well as characters who drank and swore and spoke with as conversational a tone as I could possibly give them. The stories weren’t always so successful in workshops, but I would occasionally get a compliment that I had “an ear for dialogue”, which always meant the world to me, because it cut straight back to Holden Caulfield. I think I even spelled it “goddam” to lay the influence on even thicker.

After college, I distinctly chose not to join “the prostitutes”, as Holden called them, and pursue a living in fiction. But I always retained the initial appreciation for Salinger’s writing, for stories that did more showing than telling. For plots that took a backseat to character and situation. For any kind of art — and we’re crossing into music appreciation here — that aimed for originality, but with a foot grounded in the traditions of the past, and always a great big goddam beating heart.


1 Response to “Thoughts on J.D. Salinger’s passing…”

  1. 1 raka
    February 9, 2010 at 12:42 am

    aw luke, what a lovely paean to a brilliant man and his brilliant writing. having read your work, i do recall your use of “goddam” and i’d even go so far as to say – hey, luke, you’ve got a real ear for dialogue! really, you do, buddy.

    a great big goddam beating heart indeed.

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