Thursday, January 28, 2010

Salinger & Zinn *** Updated ***

I do not need to consult Ron Silliman’s Death's Head Conservatory—and wouldn’t you know it, he has yet to mark the occasion of these two writer’s flight from this mortal coil—the news is widely abroad. Selah.

Yes, I read whatever was available by JD Salinger when I was in high school. I thought Catcher in the Rye was fantabulous for a while there. It resonates for teenagers, I think. It also performs self-pity at an alarming pace. I know by the time I was in college, the zest of C in the R was entirely used up. His other stories were too precious for my taste, archly unctuous with a fiddled with stance. One man’s opinion, and all.

One notices in the notices the constant refrain of recluse applied to Salinger. Why the emphasis on that? Maybe it surprises people that he did not go all Truman Capote when he got some success. His reclusivity is a tired meta feature. Like Capote, he does not seem to have had a lot of writing in him. I am being crass, of course. He wrote a distinguishable oeuvre, that should suffice. Douglas Adams wrote his 7 novels then moved on to other things including, alas, the big vacation. Salinger as recluse is a minor talking point, one would think.

I have only read one book by Howard Zinn, and some articles, but I think he was a vital contemporary historian. If you look at the publication dates of his books, and what they are about, you will see that he was perceptive about the present day. He identified the congealing menace of American policy in Vietnam early on, for instance. I would liken him to Noam Chomsky (whom Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen) referred to as Norman). His son went to Franconia College, which I guess makes me impressive somehow.

It seems we need these writers as heroes working for us.

N.B. Ron Silliman finally got pictures of Death’s latest collectibles up on his blog, and I must say, that is a hellacious picture of Salinger.