There are some fantastic modern American authors. There are also prolific American authors, whose books keep showing up at the checkout at Target. I don't read those, since I don't have a thing for chick-lit (or Chiclets - what's the point?). But the classic 'modern American author', if I can be allowed the oxymoron, is rare to find.
The down-side to having my Sony reader, if there is one, is that I don't go to book stores and browse anymore. While I still find great authors accidentally, bumping against their work when I seek out those that I know, it's rare.
And in the sudden demise of Jerome David Salinger last week, it suddenly, after nearly 39 years of NOT reading Catcher in the Rye, means I must now seek it out. Being that I haven't been a teenager for nearly 20 years, and seeing as I was far from the typical teen back then, will it's angst and sexual charge be lost on me? I can hope not. I can also hope I won't be let down by the hype. Was it a classic because it was so controversial and frequently banned, rather than due to the prosaic stylings of Mr. Salinger himself? I read Rushdie, and love Rushdie, but have never touched The Satanic Verses, since even the author will admit it isn't his best work. (Yes, I know Rushdie is Indian, not American. Still an author.) I can hope I'll enjoy it, given that I recall enjoying a Salinger short story in high school, and though it runs slightly into a Mamet play I read in college, I can cite most of the details.
Understandably, given as Salinger stopped publishing in 1965, and all but disappeared from the public eye some time in the 80's, I believed him to be dead. Catcher was published when Salinger was 32, and with rare exception, I like to believe that successful authors aren't published until later in life.
(This delusion allows me to delay finishing my own great American masterpiece. Procrastination works much better when you can justify it.)
Updike? Dead. Asimov? Dead. Steinbeck? Dead. Vonnegut? Sadly, dead, though the gifts he's left us carry on. Daniel Keyes? NOT dead.
So there's that.
Oh, Just Shut Up and Lie Down Somewhere
4 weeks ago