Books, Features January 29, 2010 By Anthony Smith

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I never met J.D. Salinger
     I don’t really know a damn thing about him that would give me the right to stand up and eulogize the man and I’m okay with that. All I really know about Salinger is what I have read from him…. Or more accurately, all I really know about him is what I have felt about what I have read from him. And what I have felt leaves me now with a strangely beautiful sense of loss and gratitude in the wake of his passing. 
     I can’t pay homage to the man without feeling a bit “phony” but I can honor the literary evidence, that part of the man’s character and soul that lives with us still, without any experience of the vessel it was originally packaged in or the personality that he projected. And as I celebrate the love I have of the love he had for his brilliant, lonely characters, I also respect the fact that he had absolutely no desire whatsoever to know what I think about his work or what it meant to me growing up.
     I’m not saying I wouldn’t have liked to meet him. I’m a writer for Christ’s sake! I grew up in my dad’s bookstore surrounded by Salinger’s work and his legendary mythos, of course I wanted to meet him, but by the time I was old enough to read his work and understand it (circa 1977) it was already a well-established fact that if J.D. had anything to do with it, I would never come within a hundred miles of him. Nor would anyone who came along with another heartfelt profession of commiseration with Holden Caulfield, or yet another well-meaning inquiry about “the real Glass family”.