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J. D. Salinger on the Road

J. D. Salinger on the Road
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Why would anyone bother J. D. Salinger? He wrote a few good books five decades ago, but nothing since. And what would people have said if they’d seen him? “Hi, Jerry, I read Franny & Zooey” or “What exactly is a bananafish?” It wouldn’t have done any good to ask questions then. J. D. was stone deaf.It’s anybody’s guess why on earth Joyce Maynard, who lived with Salinger for a while and seemed to be a very pleasant person, decided to tell us that she and Jerry ate frozen peas together while watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show. His daughter, Peggy, has written another tell-all book on J. D.’s life. She reveals that he was seldom around and how distant he was. Blah, blah, whine … Peggy, get over it.

We all have Salinger stories, like the time Orville got locked in Jerry’s garage and couldn’t get the new electronic door to open and was stuck there for hours; while he was waiting to be rescued, he discovered stacks of unpublished stories J. D. had been writing under an assumed name. And that name was …

Well, Orville did get locked in the garage, but he didn’t find any stacks of unpublished stories. Everyone knows that those stacks of unpublished stories are buried in several trunks near a stand of birches in the field across from Whitten Cemetery …

I’m right at the top of Dingleton Hill. A sign at the bottom of the driveway reads Fern Hill. If you come to Cornish and feel the urge to visit J. D.’s home and you need directions, stop by my place. I’ll be glad to tell you where to go.

Franz Douskey has published in The New Yorker, The Nation, Rolling Stone, Down East, and Yankee Magazine, among many others. He has read from his writing at Cronkite Graduate Center at Harvard, the University of Arizona, the New School for Social Research, Donnell Library Center, and Yale University, where he taught creative writing for five years. He is president emeritus of IMPAC University in Punta Gorda, Florida. He produces and co-hosts Once Upon a Bandstand on WQUN, Quinnipiac University.

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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4 Responses to J. D. Salinger on the Road

  1. Sue Hirons February 12, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    Rumor has it that a nephew of mine, who used to live in Cornish many years ago, took a check from Salinger in payment for groceries. My nephew didn’t know who the shopper was until he saw the signature. As I remember it, my nephew said if he had the money in his pocket to cover the check, he would have kept the check for the signature. Alas, like most teenagers, he was mostly broke. Missed chances……..

  2. Sharon Lambert February 15, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Good article Franz. I very much enjoyed reading it. I’m always amazed at how forward and thoughtless some people can be. Just because Mr. Salinger wrote a well known book doesn’t mean he and his life should be put on display, though I can understand the appeal in this ‘anything goes’ media crazy world we live in.

  3. Danielle Johnson February 15, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    Sometimes the urge to pick a man’s brain in much the same manner as one scours a museum must be satisfied by merely reading the words that the man left behind…

  4. jon casey May 24, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    I ran a tavern in Vermont for some years…I met Jerry through my neighbor Lenny who was one of Jerry’s go to guys for jobs odd and not… We never used his last name … 1) Reticence is a Vermont trait.. 2) Vermonters are nosy adverse….

    When the interstate arrived in Vermont the late 60′s, it brought with it a flood of wild eyed down country enthusiasts with “a need to know”… That is not a civil right in Vermont… Since that time Vermonters have become masters of misdirection… Nosy people need it…

    Kudos to the author (even though he is a flatlander)…

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