Reclusive novelist and short story writer J. D. Salinger died on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at the age of 91.
"Catcher in the Rye" the penultimate novel of teen angst -- first published in 1951 -- has sold 65 million copies worldwide and over half a century later still sells 250,000 copies each year.
"Catcher in the Rye" has been the object of many censorship efforts through the years. Pamela Hunt Steinle in her book "In Cold Fear: The Catcher in the Rye, Censorship Controversies and Postwar American Character" (Ohio State University Press, 2002), reported that the novel "had the dubious distinction of being at once the most frequently censored book across the nation and the second-most frequently taught novel in public high schools (after John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men.")
Salinger hated celebrity and fought mightily to keep himself out of the news, even though his works continued to generate both literary and mass appeal. His last published work was "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter and Seymour: an Introduction," two novellas that had originally appeared in the "New Yorker" and were published in book form in 1963.
Salinger refused to give interviews, and his veil of secrecy has really only been punctured twice, by a long-ago lover, Joyce Maynard in "At Home in the World: a Memoir" (Picador, 1998) and his daughter, Margaret Salinger in "Dream Catcher: a Memoir" (Washington Square Press, c2000). Both revealed intimate details about the author and man that were less than flattering. Others have disputed many of the claims in these two exposes.
Rumors are that Salinger continued to write after his "retirement" from the world. One wonders if some long-buried Salinger masterpieces will soon see the light of day.