EXPIRED: 01/28/10 – J.D. Salinger, 91, wrote a book about teenage angst that caused a whole lot of trouble, far more than the author ever imagined, I’m sure.
Jerome David Salinger was born on New Year’s Day in New York City. After traveling to Europe to learn the family business – importing – he took night courses to become a writer. Never graduating, he nevertheless sold his first story, “The Young Folks,” in 1940.
For a while he dated Eugene O’Neill’s daughter Oona, but the relationship ended when she moved to Hollywood to wed Charlie Chaplin.
To get away, Salinger joined the Army and spent most of World War II in Counter Intelligence. It was in World War II that he met, and was encouraged to continue writing, by Ernest Hemingway.
Salinger introduced the world to Holden Caulfield in the story “I’m Crazy” in 1945. He’d later revisit the character in his most famous work “The Catcher in the Rye” in the early 5o’s and although he married three times and continued to write here and there, he pretty much became a recluse, ending his life living in self-imposed isolation in a small home in Cornish, New Hampshire.
“The Catcher in the Rye” told the tale of Caulfield, a rebellious teenager who was angry with the world’s “phonies” to the extent he could go crazy.
The novel sold over 60 million copies and developed a cult following. That cult turned tragic in 1980 when Mark Chapman, a Beatles fan, stalked, shot, and killed John Lennon citing the book as inspiration. The book was also found in the home of John Hinckley after he attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.