I enjoyed your presentation, Sterling. I vividly remember pulling A Catcher in the Rye off the library bookshelf at the University of Tennessee the summer before my freshman year. I read that first page and was totally hooked. I adore Salinger. I re-read his short story collection Nine Stories again recently and was blown away all over again about how great he is. “For Esme–With Love and Squalor” is as good a short story as has ever been written. Fascinating “American Masters” documentary on PBS recently about Salinger, stressing the importance of his WWII experiences–did you see it?
There are so many things that disgust, Holden. There’s sex, yes, but also needless cruelty and phonies. I wonder what it is about A Catcher in the Rye that speaks so deeply to young men who are more than just disgusted and depressed and alienated–but who are downright sociopaths. When one killer carries around A Catcher in the Rye when he goes out to shoot someone, it’s an unfortunate fluke. But when multiple killers fit this scary profile–Mark David Chapman, John Hinckley, Jr., Robert John Bardo–you’ve got to start thinking that something is up. Have you gained any insights from your studies into why this particular novel has such a (pardon the pun) triggering effect on so many deeply disturbed readers? Present company excluded of course!
Congratulations, Sterling, and happy graduation!
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