The late JD Salinger has long been described as an eccentric recluse by journalists and publishers—probably due to his dislike of journalists and publishers. We are a sensitive bunch. Now, thanks to newly released letters between the author of Catcher in the Rye and his British friend Don Hartog, a new understanding is appearing: JD Salinger was not just a big weirdo who wouldn’t give a cub reporter a break. He also had a “human side.”
Salinger, in 50 letters and four postcards written between 1986 and 2002, describes trips to Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon, gardening, and how Burger King has the best fast food burgers (which, to be fair, clearly shows a touch of insanity in the man). There is also a July 1944 letter sent from Salinger’s father Sol to Hartog, who was a Lieutenant in the Royal Rifle Corps, insisting that his son’s friend visit Salinger’s family in Tel Aviv if he is deployed to Palestine.
A summary of the letters’ contents, released by the University of East Anglia, are kind of lovely on their own, like found poetry. I’m not sure I’d want to read the letter described below, but I might want to live it.
[Letter, JDS to Don, 11/10/1989]
JDS writes of firewood and a tomato crop, his views on travel, his son’s acting career, an Indian restaurant in London, hearing aids, Wimbledon tennis, a Russian dance ensemble, and BBC television series.