Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Letter to J.D. Salinger (RIP) Part II,

Continued from Salinger Letter Part I

This is what you gave me:

You gave me a lonely soul to share with mine, which is a pretty pure kind of love if you ask me. I got to go to New York before I ever really went to New York. Got to ride the train, just me and Holden, me and Holden against the world. That's a mighty special thing to give to a kid who feels like he doesn't fit in. To get a literary soul mate so young.

You hung out with me when I felt lost and lonely and angry and yet so often in the midst of it you made me laugh, made me chortle out my nose. My favourite kind of jokester, the chortle-inducing kind. ("Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a toilet seat.")

You had courage to write about the "small" things, to recognize the significance of ducks long gone from a frozen pond, or the kid sister that holds onto the gift, a record from her brother, Holden, even though it was broken into itty bitty pieces by the time he gives it to her.

I just want to say that I'll miss you. We'll miss you, us coffee shop loitering, small bookshop supporting, word nerding types. Thank God you've left us so many sides of your soul to return to, cause on a late sun-setting Sunday afternoon, sometimes I need to hang out with Esme or hear the tale of the Laughing Man. I'll always wish I could call up the guy who wrote about Holden, but am satisfied to have Holden nearby, when I need to take a trip to New York on my own.

I'll continue to wish Seymour didn't, and that Buddy published more of what he wrote. I'll continue to adore Muriel's father's uncle, the tiny, elderly man with the unlit cigar.

Franny a legend; Teddy a genius.

And I will always get right inside that little room at the Yoshoto's, that little art school in Montreal in what has to be an all time favourite short story.

Who doesn't wish they had a kid sister named Phoebe or that after finishing your book that they couldn't call you up?

Thank you for teaching me that great books don't need blood or guts or guns. They don't need to have any big P politics in them either. That great books can be "pretty skimpy-looking" things and still knock your socks off. Thank you for teaching me that Zen Buddhism is as good a narrative theme as death.

For Hazle Weatherfield, alone, thank you.

Thank you for teaching me to have fun when I write, to fill even the darkest of tales with a dashing and dangerous and witty sense of fun, with a sense of self-mockery at the self-seriousness inherent in all writing acts, all the ego involved in that.

You were a great writer. A master. Thank you for the gifts.

Jonathan

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