One of the first things I ever did on Facebook was to answer some questions so that I could find out "which crazy writer" I was. Of course, I was hoping for Lester Bangs. I think if you answered 'yes' to all of the drug-related questions you ended up up with Hunter S. Thompson. My writer? J.D. Salinger. There were no questions about writing styles or influences, so I'm pretty sure that the stuff about being a recluse/social phobic is what got me there. Yeah, it wasn't Lester, but it was definitely more accurate.
Salinger's passing has made me look back to when I first read The Catcher In The Rye. Unfortunately, the book never made it onto my list in high school, which is really when it should first be read. No, it was not until my early 30's that I encountered Holden Caulfield. He was really no different than any other teen kid: everybody bugged him and most of the adults were 'phonies.'
I'm not sure that I would have identified with him when I was sixteen. Sure, I had my moods like any other kid, but I didn't generally distrust adults. Not even my teachers. Yeah, I was weird. Despite that, I would surely have loved reading about a teen who had such an active internal dialog, even one as cynical as Holden's.
No, my distrust of other and cataloging of 'phonies' came almost exactly at the same time I read Catcher.
Things were not going well. A long-term loveless marriage can make a person feel like they don't really exist. At least that's how I felt. There were a lot of lies, duplicity, and dishonestly. Yeah, there were plenty of phonies involved, all of them acting as if what was going on was not their fault. They, of course, were also shocked and angered when consequences came roaring back at them. Too bad. Caught in their own rotted web. Holden would have been pleased.
In the middle of all of this, I felt as if I had disappeared completely. I had unzipped my skin, stepped out, and was made to observe these goings on from a distance. I couldn't be recognized anymore because I no longer inhabited my self. I wasn't there anymore.
J.D. Salinger removed himself from society because of too much attention. I thought I would die from not enough. Thankfully, my situation went only uphill. Salinger went to Cornish and never came back. I wonder if he was on Facebook?