J.D. Salinger—author of The Catcher In The Rye, Franny And Zooey, and several other highly regarded short stories and novellas—has died at the age of 91, NPR is reporting. Salinger's writing career dates back to the early-'40s, when The New Yorker accepted a short story called "Slight Rebellion Off Madison" featuring a teenage character named Holden Caulfield. It was unpublished until 1946, during which time Salinger served in WWII, participating in both D-Day and the Battle Of The Bulge, working counter-intelligence, helping liberate a concentration camp, and spending time and spending time in a hospital due to combat stress.
His literary career resumed upon his return with the 1948 publication of "A Perfect Day For Bananafish," which prompted The New Yorker to lock him into a right-of-first-refusal contract. It was also the first of an eventual seven stories to feature the talented, troubled Glass family. Returning to Holden Caufield, The Catcher In The Rye followed in 1951, a slow-burning success whose portrayal of one disaffected teen's rebellious journey into disillusionment has been embraced by young readers of every subsequent generation.
Its publication also roughly coincided with Salinger's slow withdrawal from the world. Most subsequent accounts are a matter of secondhand news and conjecture. Salinger is known to have moved to a remote corner of Cornish, New Hampshire and cycled through beliefs from Zen Buddhism to Reichianism to Scientology to Christian Science. He also continued to write short stories and novellas, but his output ends in 1965 with "Hapsworth 16, 1924," a novella-length Glass story published in The New Yorker and never reprinted in any other from.
There were marriages, affairs, and children, some of which yielded books of their own. There were also rumors of continued writing activity that have remained only rumors. At the center was a man who fiercely guarded his privacy and, in this space and in this time at least, should probably be afforded it. Whatever became of Salinger the man who removed himself as much as possible from the world, Salinger the writer remained, and will always, with us.
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