In Memoriam J.D. Salinger

I haven't read J.D. Salinger in over a decade. Eleven years and nearly eight months.

I had started reading Salinger when an acting teacher suggested Franny and Zoey for some reason related to the acting class. I wasn't much taken with Catcher in the Rye (perhaps just a bit old to be hitting it for the first time), but I'd read most of the Glass stories.

Nine Stories happened to be the book in my backpack the night my son was born. There were some complications (aside from needing a course of antibiotics, they turned out to be nothing, but it was quite some time before that became clear) and he had been rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's Hospital. I followed, and by the time Josh was four hours old, he was asleep and I was alone in the parents' waiting room. It was past eleven PM on a holiday, so the hospital hallways were not only empty, but dark. Kristin was still out at the hospital in the suburbs, ten miles away. The doctor in charge in the ICU had been very nice, but didn't really seem old enough to have graduated from college, much less medical school.

So as I said, there I was alone in the waiting room with a dark window into a dark hallway. Several hours worth of adrenaline shock began to subside. Knowing it would be a long night, I pulled out my book, settled my body into a chair, and settled my brain into the first of the Nine Stories. At the end of which, a character I knew from some of the other books kills himself. Eleven and two-thirds years. Maybe it's time to read Franny and Zoey again.

last modified: 4:08pm, Saturday, 6 Feb 2010 by Lowell Gilbert.