It's really no great coincidence that I brought up Holden Caulfield in last night's post, before I had heard of J.D. Salinger's passing. If you scan through the entirety of my blog, I'm sure you can find more than one reference to Salinger's characters, especially those in the Glass family. I can honestly say that I relate my experiences to his writings on a daily basis. Maybe that is childish. Maybe I should be looking to some more divine reference to life--surely Seymour would tell me this. While I do consider things in a spiritual manner, I need real, human reinforcement. More often than not, the characters in Salinger's stories display more humanity than the people with whom I interact on a daily basis.
I remember the first time I read The Catcher in the Rye. I was fifteen, and had recently concluded that everyone was a phony. (Not that I think I was wrong. Wart Hog by The Ramones validated my decision.) Imagine my surprise to find a kindred spirit in some foul-mouthed little New York prep school punk. I sat in my red armchair and read the entire book that night. Though I immediately proclaimed that it was my new favorite, it would be another five years before I read another Salinger work.
College was the biggest breath of fresh air I have ever received. It made Holden seem like more of an old friend, one that I didn't completely relate to anymore. I had more time to think about myself, instead of worrying about how much other people sickened me. Enter Franny and Zooey. I fell in love with the idea of the Glass family. At first glance, it would seem that I don't have a thing in common with them. Well-off children of parents with a mixed heritage, each of whom appeared on "It's a Wise Child" and were considered worrisome if they couldn't read by age three. The Glass children were "somebody." People think I'm supposed to be a "somebody." Sure, I have done well in school. I have ambition, and I would like to make a difference. But whether I will "make something of myself" the way all the folks back home believe that I should is another story. Franny's breakdown never seemed so bizarre to me. She said, "I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody." Well, me too, Franny. Me too.
I finished up Nine Stories, Raise High the Roof Beam..., Seymour, and any other unpublished stories I could dig up by the end of the year. For the sake of brevity and your sanity, I won't begin to talk about how I feel about Seymour Glass. In ...Bananafish, Sybil said "See-more Glass." Suffice it to say that I don't think this was just Salinger being fanciful.
Buddy said that Seymour was a person much too large to fit on ordinary typewriter paper. The same goes out to you, Mr. Salinger. Thank you.