On Passages

Yesterday, Howard Zinn passed away.

Today, J.D. Salinger.

I’ve read both men’s work. I would not characterize myself as a fan of other, though I respected what they both wrote, even liked much of it.

Salinger I read, like most people, in high school. I didn’t find his work as revelatory as my classmates did. I didn’t find it as lurid as the teachers thought. After high school, I read Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Faulkner and other writers who mattered to me more. I never went back to Salinger, though if Salinger’s vast cache of Terminator fanfic is ever published, I will look for that.

Zinn I discovered in college. I liked his perspective on history — history may be written by the winners, but there’s also something to be said for the stories of the losers and for the stories of those on whose backs the winners rode. I didn’t always agree with his perspective, especially after 9-11 when I stopped reading The Progressive largely because of his increasingly paranoid rantings.

They were both old. Zinn, 87. Salinger, 91. I think about that, and I realize that my grandmother’s days are dwindling, too.

Will the world see their like again? I wonder.

2 thoughts on “On Passages

  1. I read Catcher in the Rye at 19 at the suggestion of a friend. I wrote her afterwards that I didn’t get it. It seemed entirely pointless to me, “unless,” I added as an afterthought, “the pointlessness was the point.” Years later I learned that it was.

    When you linked to that Onion article, I did too – but, somehow, without realizing that it was the Onion. For twenty-four or forty-eight hours I believed I was linking to a genuine vindication of fanfiction by an esteemed living author of classic literature (even if it was literature I never got).

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