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J.D. Salinger: One Man's Tribute

January 27, 2010, was a sad day. J.D. Salinger died. He was such an inspiration to me as I worked on the drafts of 85A. When news of his passing came, it took me a couple days to pull myself together and blog an elegy to him on my other blog (StreetLegalPlay.wordpress.com). I’ll reiterate portions of it here:

January 29, 2010:
I know this is overdue, but I’d like to pay my respects to J.D. Salinger on the blog. He was an author of deep artistic integrity. He sure as hell stuck it to the publishing industry like no one else. No one has ever been such a holdout to those power-wielding prigs. Still, I wish we’d been able to see more of his work.

Franny and Zooey is my favorite of his books.

I’ll be the first to admit that Catcher in the Rye was an enormous influence on 85A.

In fact, this is how the first couple lines of the back cover will read:

What do you get when you cross Holden Caulfield with Johnny Rotten? None other than Seamus O’Grady, the 15-year-old, punk-rock protagonist of 85A!

Salinger has been a mentor to coming-of-age novelists for over half a century.  On the bright side, in light of his passing, Catcher in the Rye will be fresh on everyone’s minds when 85A is released!

Let me conclude with a quote. Through the years, I must have read the Tao Te Ching a zillion times, but somehow I glossed over one verse, which I recently found and which means the most to me today…It pretty much sums up Holden Caulfield’s life and mine and my character Seamus’ and possibly Salinger’s:

Give up learning, and put an end to your troubles.
Is there a difference between yes and no?
Is there a difference between good and evil?
Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense!
Other people are contented, enjoying the sacrificial feast of the ox.
In spring some go to the park, and climb the terrace,
But I alone am drifting, not knowing where I am.
Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile,
I am alone, without a place to go.
Others have more than they need, but I alone have nothing.
I am a fool. Oh, yes! I am confused.
Other men are clear and bright,
But I alone am dim and weak.
Other men are sharp and clever,
But I alone am dull and stupid.
Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea,
Without direction, like the restless wind.
Everyone else is busy,
But I alone am aimless and depressed.
I am different.
I am nourished by the Great Mother.
(“Are You Different?,” Verse 20, Tao Te Ching)

R.I.P. – J.D. Salinger (January 1, 1919 – January 27, 2010)

You may or may not have been influenced by J.D. Salinger, but either way you’re sure to enjoy 85A.