I'm quite surprised to see the sad, but not entirely unexpected, death of this man getting such prominence on British news - but that may say more about the times of my own education. During all the time I was at school (1952-63) I can't recall a single American author being even mentioned, let alone being read, apart from Mark Twain, perhaps. However I believe that nowadays greater awareness of such as F.Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Henry James as well as Salinger and one or two others is given greater importance now than in my time - not least because American culture has pervaded the rest of the world outside the U.S.A. to a much greater extent and in so many respects than was the case half a century ago.
I first read 'Catcher' only 5 years ago, and re-read it last year. On one particular point I do wonder if other Americans, especially gay readers, share a certain discomfort towards the very end of the novel when Mr Antolini makes a presumed 'pass' at Caulfield which he rebuffs by making an excuse and running away. Is it just me being over-sensitive at the thought that the first time so many young people will read about a gay ('flitty'/'perverty') person, albeit possibly bi-sexual, is that such an individual is predatory and, if not to be actually despised, then certainly should be avoided and perhaps pitied? Of course I realise the book is very much a reflection of its then contemporary 1951 world and the prevailing attitudes of the time. British writing of the same period was, by and large, hardly any more enlightened. (Films and novels from and before then would have assumed a viewer's/reader's satisfaction at a character with implied 'dubious' sexuality being killed, usually violently, with an undertone of 'Serves him right. He got what he deserved!'. So in that respect at least, I suppose Salinger's book may be considered an advance.) But I'd be very interested indeed in hearing an American viewpoint towards my own take on this episode at the end of 'Catcher'. And I'm also curious to know whether the book is still considered to be an essential read for Americans, as I understand it had been for several decades after its first appearance?
2 hours ago