With J. D. Salinger's passing last week, the floodgates opened to obituaries, speculations, and mass reevaluation of his life works. Included in this unsurprising ritual, critics and readers around the world felt the need to announce once again the bond they shared with Holden Caulfield. As a reader who was not taken with "Catcher in the Rye" (in fact, it ranks as one of the most disappointing books I've ever read - not necessarily the worst, but disappointingly bad. And no, I didn't study it in school), I've found myself over the last week avoiding the topic - avoiding Salinger altogether.
What resulted with the obituaries and summaries and essays was one emerging, shining hope: that Salinger continued writing and now, after his reclusive death, many works will come to light. Fans are excited and anticipate excellent stories never brought to light because of the author's deep dislike of actually publishing things (the opposite of most writers today). As a non-fan, it's hard to sympathize with the excitement, even as I recognize it. Instead, I find myself wanting to read Salinger's oft-praised shorter works, if only to understand why I disliked "Catcher in the Rye" so much.
So fans of J. D. Salinger, as you look to the future and the stories that may emerge, I turn to the past and the stories Salinger did publish. Here's to hoping none of us are disappointed by what we find.