Tag Archives: New York

Taking a Walk Through J. D. Salinger’s New York by James Barron

Seton Entrance - Edward Keating/The New York Times

Seton Entrance - Edward Keating/The New York Times

MLA Citation:

Barron, James. “Taking a Walk Through J. D. Salinger’s New York.” The New York Times. The New York Times Co., 28 Jan. 2010. Web. 14 Dec. 2010. <http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/taking-a-walk-through-jd-salingers-new-york/>.

First Paragraph:

Hey, listen. You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over?

There it is: the Holden Caulfield question. Sara Cedar Miller gets it all the time.

Continue reading

45190b5c8f4eec3f_large

“Holden in the Museum” by John Seelye

MLA Citation:

Seelye, John. “Holden in the Museum.” Ed. Jack Salzman. New Essays on The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Cambridge UP, 2001. 23-33. Print.

First Paragraph:

Seelye’s essay starts with a quote from the novel:  “I was the only one left in the tomb then.  I sort of liked it, in a way.  It was so nice and peaceful.  Then, all of a sudden, you’d never guess what I saw on the wall.”

“I don’t think I was alone, as a college undergraduate in the early fifties, in regarding Holden Caulfield as a royal pain, an affront to my generation, which was prone to assume supine positions in the name of material well-being.  Most of my classmates were conformists eager to become Organization Men inventing Hidden Persuaders, and the grey flannel suit (with that touch of conformist flair, the tattersall vest) was our uniform of choice.  ours was the cause that James Dean’s Rebel was without, and James’s shadow figure, John Dean, was one of us.  Our greatest fear was not of losing our individuality to corporate America but of losing our lives in Korea.  Like Dan Quayle, we did our patriotic best by joining reverse units, hoping that the winds of war would pass by, leaving our private lives unruffled.  About the time that Jack Kerouac was making his westward journey that would become thinly fictionalized as On the Road, I spent two summers driving from Connecticut to California to take part in a naval reserve training program that would result in an ensign’s commission just in time for the end of hostilities in Korea.  It was not me that Salinger’s Catcher caught.”

Continue reading

New Essays on The Catcher in the Rye

New Essays on Catcher in the Rye Edited by Jack Salzman

MLA Citation:

Salzman, Jack. New Essays on The Catcher in the Rye. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991. Print.

First Paragraph:

“In 1959, eight years after the publication of The Catcher in the Rye, Arthur Mizener began a Harper’s magazine essay about J. D. Salinger by noting that he was ‘probably the most avidly read author of any serious pretensions of his generation.’  There were good reasons why this should be the case, Mizener commented.  Whatever limitations the work might have had – either of technique or of subject matter – within these limitations it was ‘the most interesting fiction that has come along for some time.’  Although, as we will see, there was little critical agreement about what the limitations of The Catcher in the Rye may have been, there was little disagreement with Mizener’s contention that Salinger was the most avidly read ‘serious’ writer of his generation.  Soon after Nine Stories appeared in April 1953, it made the New York Times best-seller list.  By 1961 sales of Catcher were reported to have reached one and half million copies in the United States alone.” (from The Introduction)

Table of Contents:

Series Editor’s Preface

This book is part of The American Novel Series

Introduction by Jack Salzman

Articles

John Seelye:  Holden in the Museum
Michael Cowan:  Holden’s Museum Pieces:  Narrator and Nominal Audience in The Catcher in the Rye
Christopher Brookeman:  Pencey Preppy:  Cultural Codes in The Catcher in the Rye
Joyce Rowe:  Holden Caulfield and American Protest
Peter Shaw:  Love and Death in The Catcher in the Rye

Notes on Contributors

Selected Bibliography

“Love and Death in ‘The Catcher in the Rye'” by Peter Shaw

MLA Citation:

Shaw, Peter. “Love and Death in The Catcher in the Rye.” Ed. Jack Salzman. New Essays on The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Cambridge UP, 2001. 97-114. Print.

The full article is available here. *Please note we are working to contact the author to make sure that this linkage is acceptable, and it will be removed at the author’s request.

First Paragraph:

“By the time The Catcher in the Rye appeared in 1951, the theme of the sensitive youth beleaguered by society was well established in the American novel.  Reviewing Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms in 1948, Diana Trilling complained about the tendency of contemporary novelists to employ a ‘deterministic principle’ in which the youth was repeatedly presented as a ‘passive victim.’  Also well established by 1951 was the link between neurosis, self-destructive behavior, and social maladaptation on the one hand, and artistic sensibility and special insight on the other.  Not surprisingly, Holden Caulfield was regarded as yet another fictional example of the sensitive, outcast character vouchsafed a superior insight by a touch of mental disturbance.”

Next paragraph for clarification purposes:

“Holden’s disturbance was taken to be both his unique, personal gift and the fault of a hypocritical, uncaring society, one particularly indifferent to its more sensitive souls.  Holden’s insight into the adult world’s hypocrisies, moreover, appeared to derive precisely from his being its casualty.  Given the deplorable world in which he lived, if by the end of his adventures Holden seemed ready to effect some kind of accommodation with society, this struck readers as inevitable, if regrettable.

Continue reading

at home in the world

At Home in the World, a memoir by Joyce Maynard

MLA Citation:

Maynard, Joyce. At Home in the World. New York: Picador, 1998. Print.

Jacket Copy:

“The daughter of brilliant and complicated parents-an adoring alcoholic artist for a father and a dazzling, funny, and wildly frustrating mother, driven to see her daughters achieve what had never been possible for herself-Joyce Maynard grew up with a pen in her hand, writing and publishing stories before she reached her teens.

In the spring of 1972, when she was a freshman at Yale, Maynard wrote a cover story for The New York Times Magazine about life as a young person in the sixties.  Among the hundreds of letters she received in response was one from the famously reclusive author J.D. Salinger.  They embarked on a correspondence.  Within months she had left college and moved in with him-believing, despite their thirty-five-year age difference, that she had found her soulmate and that they would be together always.

Shortly before the publication of Looking Back, the book she wrote over the course of her time with him, Salinger sent Maynard away-an event so devastating that she herself retreated from the world for two years in a New Hampshire farmhouse.

At Home in the World explores the story of Maynard’s family, her relationship with Salinger, and the way the legendary writer’s influence, along with that of her parents, reverberated through her life in the decades that followed.  In these pages, she chronicles her painful reentry into the world, her development as a writer, her marriage, her struggle to become a healthy parent to her own children, the death of her parents, and the years, following the end of her marriage, when she set out to rebuild her life.

A crucial turning point in Maynard’s story occurred when her own daughter turned eighteen-the age Maynard herself was when Salinger first approached her.  Compelled to achieve a greater level of understanding, Maynard made the decision to break her twenty-five year silence about what had taken place with Salinger.

At Home in the World is at once both a tale of an extraordinary and unique experience, and a universal story about coming of age, the experience of loss and confusion, and the struggle to become whole.  In these pages, Maynard confronts with unblinking honesty, compassion and surprising humor the most painful truths of her experience.  But ultimately, hers is not a story of devastation or regret.  At Home in the World is about redemption and triumph, and the wisdom acquired when at long last a woman embraces the disquieting truths of her history.”

In Search of JD Salinger

In Search of J.D. Salinger by Ian Hamilton

MLA Citation:

Hamilton, Ian. In Search of J.D. Salinger: A Biography. New York: Random House, 1988. Print.

Dust Jacket Copy:

“In 1983 biographer Ian Hamilton began work on what he know would prove a formidable task:  an account of the literary life of one of twentieth-century America’s most widely read and most reclusive writers, J.D. Salinger.  What Hamilton didn’t know was that he would end up with not one story to tell but two, that his own life would ultimately become intimately entangled with that of his notoriously difficult subject.

Through The Catcher in the Rye and his timelessly provocative stories, Salinger’s magic has touched, and continues to touch, the lives of millions of readers.  Yet the creator of Holden Caulfield and of the enigmatic Franny and Zooey is himself as much a mystery as even his most elusive characters.  Now, in a brilliant feat of literary detection, the distinguished biographer Ian Hamilton penetrates the mystery, providing the first extended, responsible study of Jerome David Salinger, the writer and the man.

But In Search of J.D. Salinger is not merely the literary biography that Hamilton set out to write-the version that Salinger challenged in court.  Ian Hamilton startling response has been to recast his book, telling the original story in fascinating detail, but also incorporating within it his own sometimes poignant, sometimes comic, sometimes exasperating quest for Salinger-a quest that has left him irrevocably a part of Salinger’s life, and Salinger a part of his.

Illuminating the roads he found into Salinger’s past-as well as describing the self-questioning process, the false starts, the shifts from certainty to doubt that occurred throughout the pursuit of his subject-Ian Hamilton takes us from Salinger’s New York City childhood and his adolescent years at Valley Forge military Academy to Salinger’s surprising military career; from close friendships and early influences to romances and a brief first marriage; from the days of writing for the ‘slicks’ to the first New Yorker successes; form Salinger’s reclusive obscurity to sudden and overwhelming fame-and his curious response to that fame.  Finally, Hamilton recounts the legal confrontations of 1986 and 1987 that brought Salinger once again into the public world-if only briefly-and led Hamilton to retrace his own steps and retell his story, this time with himself as an essential player.

In Search of J.D. Salinger is a remarkable book in which a major biographer, critic, and poet has unearthed surprising quantities of information from sources other than Salinger himself, revealing what has never before been known about one of our most distinguished writers of fiction-and taking us along on his own turbulent journey in the process.”

Continue reading

Reader’s Guide – “A Slight Rebellion Off Madison”

Contributed by Tim Towslee. Thank you Tim!

Publication History:

  • c. 1941, sold to the New Yorker in November 1941 as “Am I Banging My Head Against the Wall?” (Greiner), publication delayed due to U.S. entry into WWII
  • p. 21 December 1946 in The New Yorker as “Slight Rebellion Off Madison”
  • collected in David Remmick’s Wonderful Town: New York Stories from the New Yorker (2000)

Character List:

Holden Caulfield: The central character. His middle name is Morrisey.

George Harrison: An acquaintance of Sally Hayes. He is a student at Andover.

Sally Hayes: A girl Holden likes and is meeting in the city for ice skating.

Carl Luce:: Carl is described as overweight and unattractive. He is a classmate of Holden’s at Pencey Prep.

Summary:

This story is the assumed basis for The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 17. In it, Holden Caulfield goes ice skating with Sally Hayes. After some small talk with her, Holden reveals his thoughts about his perceived pointlessness of prep school. He tells her he’d like for them to move away, far away, from the city; but Sally dismisses this as a ridiculous notion. Later, Holden and Carl Luce appear at the Wadsworth bar, where they drink scotch and sodas. Holden calls Carl an “intellectual guy” and asks him what he would do if he hated school and wanted to “get the hell out of New York.” Later, when he is alone Holden drunkenly calls Sally twice on a payphone. Then, after chatting with the piano player, Holden waits for a bus on the corner of Madison Avenue with tears in his eyes.

Continue reading

Just Before the War with the Eskimos

Reader’s Guide – “Just Before the War with the Eskimos”

Publication History:

“Just Before the War with the Eskimos” appeared in the June 5, 1948 issue of The New Yorker and was reprinted in Salinger’s 1953 collection Nine Stories.

Character List:

Ginnie Maddox: A young woman of 15. She has been playing tennis with Selena for at least five weeks.

Selena Graff: Another young woman, whose mother has pneumonia. She is also 15 and has a brother named Franklin.

Franklin Graff: Selena’s Brother, Franklin is 24 years old and has not gone to the war due to his being classified 4-F for a bad heart. He has been working in an airplane factory.

Eric: Franklin’s friend. Eric has an effeminate personality and has been living with a writer.

Summary:

Ginnie Maddox and her classmate Selena have been playing tennis for several weeks. Though Selena always brings fresh cans of tennis balls, she never contributes to the cab fare. Ginnie becomes annoyed and insists that Selena reimburse her the cost of the cab fares she has paid. Selena tries to explain to Ginnie that her mother is ill and she could give her the money in class later, but Ginnie becomes insistent and waits for Selena to go upstairs and retrieve the money from her mother.

While she waits, Ginnie talks with Selena’s brother Franklin whose overall physical demeanor she finds repulsive, and who is 4-F status and has been working in an airplane factory for the past few years. Franklin has cut his finger and is working to heal it while he talks with Ginnie. He offers her a half of a chicken sandwich, then dashes upstairs to finish getting ready. As he goes upstairs, Franklin’s friend Eric arrives. Eric and Franklin hare plans to go see Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, which Eric thinks is magnificent; he also admires Ginnie’s camel’s hair coat, and talks at length about his roommate, who is a writer.

(Ed. Note: These observations, are Eric’s effeminate language and gesture signal the potential that Eric [and perhaps by association, Franklin] can be interpreted as gay characters.)

When Selena finally returns with the money, Ginnie tells her to keep it and suggests she might come over later, even though she had previously indicated that she had plans for the evening. On her walk home, she takes the chicken sandwich half out of her pocket, but decides against throwing it aaway, noting how it had once taken her three days to discard a dead Easter chick.

Continue reading

The Laughing Man Glove and Ball

Reader’s Guide – “The Laughing Man”

Contributed by John Piersol. Thanks John!

Publication Details:

First published in The New Yorker on March 19, 1949. Later collected and published in Nine Stories.

Character List:

Unnamed narrator – A nine year old boy from New York City and member of the Comanche Club, who seems to idolize “The Chief.”

John Gedsudski – “The Chief” of the Comanches, and a law student at NYU.

Mary Hudson – John’s girlfriend, she is very beautiful, athletic and attended Wellesley College.

Summary:

“The Laughing Man” is told by a nine-year-old living in New York City in 1928. He is a member of a Comanche Club troop. The narrator tells the story of his Scout leader, “The Chief,” a young law student at New York University. The Chief is physically unattractive, but the troop seems to hold him in high regard. He is widely respected by his troop for his athletic strength and storytelling ability.

Every day, after the troop has completed its activities, the Chief gathers the boys for the next episode in an ongoing story he tells them about the Laughing Man. The Chief’s story-within-a-story describes The Laughing Man was the child of wealthy missionaries, and was kidnapped by bandits in China. The bandits torture left him with a grotesquely deformed face and he was shunned and obliged to wear a sheer red mask made of poppy petals. Despite this deformity, the laughing man was possessed of the ability to outsmart the bandits and eventually kept them captive in a mausoleum. Through acts of artifice and bravery, the laughing man amassed a fortune and lived with four companions, a wolf, a dwarf, a giant and a lovely Eurasian girl. The narrator summarizes the Chief’s installments of The Laughing Man’s escapades, presenting him as a sort of hero crossing “the Chinese-Paris” border to commit acts of heroic larceny and tweaking his nose at his archenemy “Marcel Dufarge, the internationally famous detective and witty consumptive.” (90)

When The Chief begins seeing a beautiful young woman, Mary Hudson, a student who attended Wellesley College, Mary begins to join the all boys group. Unwilling to break the aura of machismo he has built up with his troop, the Chief introduces her into the boys’ baseball games as an “associate coach.”

One day the Chief presents an installment where the laughing man is taken prisoner by his arch-rival, and through deception and betrayal, bound to a tree and in mortal danger. Immediately after, the Chief brings the troop to a baseball field. Mary Hudson arrives. The Chief and Mary have a conversation out of earshot of the boys, and both are obviously upset. Why John and Mary are distraught is ambiguous, as their conversation occurs away from the story’s narrator. However, Salinger gives some subtle hints in the form of baby carriages, including one the narrator nearly trips over.

In the final installment of his Laughing Man story, the Chief brutally kills off the character and the narrator returns home, evidently disturbed by the story and the anxieties he feels about the chief’s relationship.

Continue reading

With Love and Squalor

With Love and Squalor edited by Kip Kotzen and Thomas Beller

MLA Citation

Kotzen, Kip, and Thomas Beller. With Love and Squalor: 14 Writers Respond to the Work of J.d. Salinger. New York: Broadway Books, 2001. Print.

First Paragraph:

“There are a lot of things that most of us would rather not know about J. D. Salinger. What he eats or drinks. What he wears.  What kind of father he is. Or any other of the various sordid details that have surfaced about his personal life in books by Ian Hamilton, Margaret Salinger and Joyce Maynard. Personally, my interest was never in J. D. Salinger the myth. It was always in J. D. Salinger the writer. ”

from the Introduction, page 1

Continue reading