Even though I rarely think of J.D. Salinger, just the other day I mentioned him -- and his most famous character, Holden Caufield -- in a paper I wrote for a class I'm taking on adolescent development. As an alienated teenager, myself, I took a literature class where we read Salinger's Nine Stories. I had a passionate teacher who helped Salinger's work come alive for me. I wasn't really sure what these stories were about exactly, but, whatever it was, struck me as something very important, something very genuine -- and something worth striving to understand.
Now -- at the ripe old age of 91, many years from the teenager's world of Holden where everything adults did or cared about seemed "phony" -- Salinger is dead.
I am grateful to have had his work as part of my life. It made me feel less alone, especially as a teen, to know others were feeling alienated -- and were searching for something "more."