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J. D.’s letters.

November 16, 2010 \pm\30 11:10 pm

At the Morgan Library in April, I saw an exhibition of letters from J. D. Salinger.  (Actually, there were two exhibits, and I only saw the second one — half the letters from J. D. to Michael Mitchell, the illustrator of the hardcover version of Catcher in the Rye.)  For complex reasons, the letters were in the same room as a Gutenberg Bible and the Magna Carta.  There are five copies of the Magna Carta, and this one had never left the British Isles.  It was sent to the Smithsonian Institute, and would have returned to England, but a volcano exploded in Iceland, making air travel impossible.  Thus the august document was snared by the Morgan.  The Gutenberg Bible is always there.

Salinger’s letters — plus one postcard — were all typed.  The letters were on typing paper cut in half (unless Salinger bought 8.5″ x 5.5″ paper somewhere!).  Here’s what I learned from his correspondence:

1) Salinger was not a complete hermit, as one imagines.  He went into town every day to get his mail!

2) The novelist also had two children.  He talks about his children pretty much the way everyone does.

3) Salinger was an extremely nostalgic guy.

4) It’s strange to imagine him living in the modern world with Eddie Murphy and people like that, but he did.

5) Salinger was cynical about the Republican Party.  (Though at one point, I believe he was a Republican.)

6) I attended the same production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ on Broadway that he did in 1979.  He called it “mannered and theatrical and awful.”  (He was right.)

7) The high point of his daily life was getting Popular Mechanics in the mail.

  1. Jen permalink
    November 17, 2010 \am\30 11:21 am 11:21 am

    u r my favorite blogger

    • November 17, 2010 \am\30 11:28 am 11:28 am

      Me too! #6 is so cute.

      I wonder if Fresh Direct ever solicited Salinger to be their spokesmodel?

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