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Friday, January 29, 2010

J.D. Salinger and Howard Zinn

A few words on the passing of two literary stars from two different fields,two different styles of writing and both wrote works that I have enjoyed immensely

J.D.Salinger passed away at the age of 91 at his "hideaway" in New Hampshire.
Salinger's classic "Catcher in the Rye" has been required reading for the disaffected teenager/young adult for almost sixty years now.
The reclusive author has published nothing since 1965,yet has still been found fascinating by generations of literary followers.
Catcher in the Rye seems to move seamlessly through each generation,although some of its references have become quite dated as time has moved by.
Holden Caufield (the narrator and protagonist of the book) has become a character that lives on through the years and is looked at as a template of the middle 20th century's teenager.
Salinger retreated in the early 60's to a compound and rarely left it to deal with the general public.
The character of Frederick Forrester (played by Sean Connery) in the film Finding Forrester was based on Salinger.
Salinger was also known for his refusal to allow his works to be made into films,which likely cost him a ton of dollars,but enabled himself to avoid the heartache of watching Hollywood butcher his books as is so often done even when the final product is a strong one.
Salinger is thought to possibly have works (finished and/or unfinished) tucked away and the contents are unknown as are any possible plans for publication.
A final note on Salinger that I did not know until yesterday is that he had a 1980's relationship with Elaine Joyce,who was noted as actress Elaine Joyce.
I never saw her act in anything,but as a game show aficionado of my youth,I remember her quite well on shows such as 25,000 pyramid,password and most prominently Match Game.


Howard Zinn died yesterday from a heart attack at the age of 87.
Zinn is best known for his "People's History of the United States" that to put it kindly is strongly left wing.
I mean,left to the point of WAY left,but should be required reading for people that care about our country.
Zinn doesn't get it all right in the book,he has an agenda and that is to show that the United States all too often has been a bully in world affairs along with speaking one thing while doing another.
Some of which is dead factual and others need to be stretched and pulled in order to make a convoluted case,but Zinn discusses historical issues in a way that conventional historians often avoid.
After all,too much criticism of our country can make a book unappealing to teachers,school boards and library buyers and that hits authors and publishing companies in the pocketbook.
So why,should Zinn's book be required reading if it isn't perfect?
Well,it gives a different perspective than the commonly agreed on history,a perspective that all too often is not even considered by the side that disagrees.
In an age of polar opposites of political beliefs,cable news networks etc,why shouldn't there be an alternative history that looks at things that others do not?
Agree or disagree,Howard Zinn made you think about issues,what YOU believe and what YOU think and and anything that makes one ponder and truly think is always a good thing.

Back tomorrow with Devils vs Maple Leafs.

Photo Credits
Salinger:Little,Brown-AP
Zinn:Unknown

1 comment:

Shawn said...

From Cherie:
Finding Forrester is a great film, and I thank you for introducing me to it...one of my favorites.