gershon hepner

(5 3 38 / leipzig)

not catchers in the rye


Pretension, balancing banality with self-
effacement leads to phoniness,
and although Holden Caulfield is not on the shelf,
his author lives in loneliness,
a great observer of all false sophistication,
replacing the imperative
of thought with style and, with comedic contemplation,
the funny nerve of narrative.
For those of us who are not catchers in the rye,
it seems the author dropped the ball
his literature’s epiphanies by leaving, sine die,
Damascus, far more dead than Paul.



Inspired by an article on J. D. Salinger, who turns 90 on New Year’s Day, by Charles McGrath (“Still Paging Mr. Salinger, ” NYT, December 31,2008) :
On Thursday, J. D. Salinger turns 90. There probably won’t be a party, or if there is we’ll never know. For more than 50 years Mr. Salinger has lived in seclusion in the small town of Cornish, N.H. For a while it used to be a journalistic sport for newspapers and magazines to send reporters up to Cornish in hopes of a sighting, or at least a quotation from a garrulous local, but Mr. Salinger hasn’t been photographed in decades now and the neighbors have all clammed up. He’s been so secretive he makes Thomas Pynchon seem like a gadabout. Mr. Salinger’s disappearing act has succeeded so well, in fact, that it may be hard for readers who aren’t middle-aged to appreciate what a sensation he once caused. With its very first sentence, his novel “The Catcher in the Rye, ” which came out in 1951, introduced a brand-new voice in American writing, and it quickly became a cult book, a rite of passage for the brainy and disaffected. “Nine Stories, ” published two years later, made Mr. Salinger a darling of the critics as well, for the way it dismantled the traditional architecture of the short story and replaced it with one in which a story could turn on a tiny shift of mood or tone….. In general what has dated most in Mr. Salinger’s writing is not the prose — much of the dialogue, in the stories especially and in the second half of “Franny and Zooey, ” still seems brilliant and fresh — but the ideas. Mr. Salinger’s fixation on the difference between “phoniness, ” as Holden Caulfield would put it, and authenticity now has a twilight, ’50s feeling about it. It’s no longer news, and probably never was. This is the theme, though, that comes increasingly to dominate the Glass chronicles: the unsolvable problem of ego and self-consciousness, of how to lead a spiritual life in a vulgar, material society. The very thing that makes the Glasses, and Seymour especially, so appealing to Mr. Salinger — that they’re too sensitive and exceptional for this world — is also what came to make them irritating to so many readers.Another way to pose the Glass problem is: How do you make art for an audience, or a critical establishment, too crass to understand it? This is the issue that caused Seymour to give up, presumably, and one is tempted to say it’s what soured Mr. Salinger on wanting to see anything else in print.Sadly, though, Mr. Salinger’s spiritual side is his least convincing. His gift is less for profundity than for observation, for listening and for comedy. Except perhaps for Mark Twain, no other American writer has registered with such precision the humor — and the pathos — of false sophistication and the vital banality of big-city pretension. For all his reclusiveness, moreover, Mr. Salinger has none of the sage’s self-effacement; his manner is a big and showy one, given to tours-de-force and to large emotional gestures. In spite of his best efforts to silence himself or become a seer, he remains an original and influential stylist — the kind of writer the mature Seymour (but not necessarily the precocious 7-year-old) would probably deplore.

12/31/08

Submitted: Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (not catchers in the rye by gershon hepner )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. retriever for a pet (very rough), lee fones
  2. Iraq in History, Ima Ryma
  3. the yes in me, RIC S. BASTASA
  4. Kalidasa, Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
  5. THE PRETTY SEA AND THE HARD ROCKS, MOHAMMAD SKATI
  6. Venereus, Bruce Hayno
  7. without tears, RIC S. BASTASA
  8. When You Speak to Your God, Robert Kane
  9. Maiden Of Ekwensu, Chibueze Oscar Osuji
  10. Whom to, gajanan mishra

Poem of the Day

poet Sara Teasdale

I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
And walking up the long beach all alone
I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
As you and I once heard their monotone.

...... Read complete »

   
[Hata Bildir]