“It’s a delicious thing to write. To be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating.”
“Writing is a sweet, wonderful reward.”
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye: who among us does not remember reading this book as a teenager and being entranced by the truths it told, the lies it revealed, the heart of things that it laid bare? Each year, this classic among classics continues to sell about 250,000 copies. All told, the book has been bought by 65 million people since it was first published in 1951. Who can explain its universal appeal for teenagers — and adults — all over the world?
Certainly, author JD Salinger never tried to. And though he went on to publish several well-received books of short stories, he never quite hit the mark the way he did with Catcher and its reluctant, rebellious hero, Holden Caulfield. But JD didn’t really care about that — all he cared about was writing. He loved to write and felt that it was only true passion that could create the “fire between the words” that made them come alive.
In 1977, National Book Award finalist Richard Yates said in The New York Times that reading Salinger’s stories for the first time was a “landmark experience,” and that “nothing quite like it has happened to me since”. He described Salinger as “a man who used language as if it were pure energy beautifully controlled, and who knew exactly what he was doing in every silence as well as in every word.”
“Pure energy beautifully controlled” — what a masterful way to describe masterful writing! And to be able to use silence as well as speech with equal artfulness — what a gift worth striving for. All this is making me want to go back and reread The Catcher in the Rye. What about you? Write on!