January 1 - J. D. Salinger

Bio: Born on January 1, 1919, in New York City, J.D. Salinger was a literary giant despite his slim body of work and reclusive lifestyle. His landmark novel, The Catcher in the Rye, set a new course for literature in post-WWII America and vaulted Salinger to the heights of literary fame. In 1953, Salinger moved from NYC and led a secluded life, only publishing one new story before his death.

Anecdotes:

  • Salinger’s father wanted him to follow in his footsteps as a meat importer, sending his son to Austria to learn the trade. Salinger left Austria just one month before the country fell to Hitler.
  • Salinger has been at various times a Zen Buddhist, a Christian Scientist, and a Scientologist.
  • The Catcher in the Rye was one of the most banned books and paradoxically one of the most taught books of the twentieth century.
  • In 1953, two years after the publication of Catcher, Salinger pulled up stakes in New York City and retreated to a secluded, 90-acre place in Cornish, New Hampshire. There, Salinger did his best to cut-off contact with the public.
  • In contrast with the reclusive lifestyle he chose for his adult years, J.D. Salinger was a bit of a ham as a kid. When he was eleven years old, the boys at Camp Wigwam in Maine voted him “the most popular actor of 1930.”
  • He was so incensed by Hollywood’s treatment of his story “Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut” that he has refused to sell the movie rights to any of his stories to Hollywood. It is reported that his last will and testament has a stipulation blocking any Hollywood adaptations of his works after his death.

Final sentences:

For some minutes, before she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep, she just lay quiet, smiling at the ceiling.

from Franny and Zooey

[He released the magazine, looked at it, then reinserted it. He cocked the piece.] Then he went over and sat down on the unoccupied twin bed, looked at the girl, aimed the pistol, and fired a bullet through his right temple.

from A Perfect Day for Bananafish

[Don’t ever tell anybody anything.] If you do, you start missing everybody.

from The Catcher in the Rye

[Eloise shook Mary Jane’s arm.] “I was a nice girl,” she pleaded, “wasn’t I?

from Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut


Sources: 1-2-3-4-5


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