J.D. Salinger died today. He was 91. He was also something that’s very hard to imagine in 21st century America: allergic to fame.
Like most alienated youth, we loved the way The Catcher in the Rye spoke to us, about us. And like a lot of over-educated alienated youth, we moved on from Catcher in the Rye to Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, and the rest. If you haven’t read “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” go do so now.
“William Holden Caulfield” owes more than just 2/3 of its title to Salinger. It’s all about a fierce desire to maintain Holden Caulfield’s jaded but idealistic mindset into adulthood, and the fear that doing so might not be possible.
Typing this today, as an almost-45 year-old (which means I’m not even halfway to the grave, if I live as long as Salinger managed), I have to say we were half right. A lot of that adolescent insistence that things should be more just and anyone who settles for less is a sell-out does, in fact, bleed away, no matter how hard you try to prevent it from happening.
But not all of it. Never all of it.
In memory of Mr. Salinger, the band is giving away a live version of “William Holden Caulfield.”