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One for the books

Kelly Konya | Sunday, September 29, 2013

It’s funny. Or maybe it’s just me being a phony.
I think I owe my entire 20 years of life to a man that nobody can nail down.
Ever since I first picked up “Catcher in the Rye,” I haven’t been able to tone down my obsession with its author, J.D. Salinger. You can imagine my excitement when this month, a new biography and documentary on his life were released. There were all these new secrets to be spilled and new interviews with his old girlfriends and war buddies that no one had ever heard. When I finally had the book in my hands, I paged through it like I was touching gold.
The fact of the matter is, Salinger didn’t want to talk to anybody. He’s one of the most famous recluses in the world. He published “Catcher in the Rye” in 1952 and then dropped off. 
I think I’m beginning to understand why.
For one thing, Salinger not only landed on Utah Beach on D-Day, but also faced some of the most deadly battles of World War II while volunteering, like the Battle of the Bulge and the battles in Hürtgen Forest. He also helped to liberate a Dachau sub-concentration camp. 
While working for the Counter-intelligence Corps, he married a woman who may have been an undercover Gestapo informant (sources are still unsure). Salinger simply put a plane ticket back to Germany on her breakfast plate one morning when they were living together in New York City. 
Once he finally dedicated himself to writing, he was consistently rejected by editors at “The New Yorker” who said that his writing didn’t fit their standards, and also by critics who said his characters were phonies and self-absorbed, essentially the two types of people he couldn’t stand.
I would isolate myself too, wouldn’t you?
I get that he was a bit of a rare bird, but others say he was the very first beatnik. To me, he was so in tune with his sense of self and his desires that he did what he could to cultivate them in a world that brought him inestimable pain. 
I can’t necessarily defend his behavior towards his loved ones who he brushed aside, but for someone to have gone through battles of every category, I think we should all cut him a break.
Salinger was reclusive, perhaps a little condescending and at times downright rude to fans, but doesn’t being in the public eye always seem to turn into a bad thing anyway?
I don’t think I’ll ever get over my fascination. I’ll probably name my dog after Holden Caulfield.
To me, Salinger is truly one for the books.